ENGL 4023 Malory

Instructor: Kathy Cawsey

It is no great overstatement to say that everyone – at least in Western society – has heard of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Why is this story so pervasive? What makes it so compelling? What is it in this story that appeals to so many different peoples, eras, and cultures, from 10th-century Welshmen to 12th-century French ladies to Victorian middle class writers to modern American Fantasy readers? This course will study fully the pre-eminent work of Arthurian literature, Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur. The Morte Darthur is the version of the tales of King Arthur and his knights which brought together the English and French Arthurian traditions, and which has become the standard story we know today. We will read the familiar stories of the sword in the stone, the entrapment of Merlin, the love of Lancelot and Guinevere, the quest for the Holy Grail, and the fall of the Round Table, as well as possibly less-familiar stories such as the fight of Arthur with the Emperor of Rome, the tale of Sir Gareth, and the story of Tristan. We will study both the work itself and the scholarly debates surrounding it.