King Arthur's Court: Medieval and Modern

Course Description

Thomas Malory’s Arthurian epic Le Morte D’Arthur is often thought of whimsically as the last medieval English text. As a prose narrative describing the gradual annihilation of King Arthur’s legendary court at Camelot; the disintegration of the medieval courtly values that once held it together; and finally the death of Arthur himself to confirm its demise, the book seems in retrospect to be a fitting swan song for what we think of as the English middle ages. Through a focused reading of Le Morte D’Arthur students will be introduced to late medieval English literary history as we discuss the essential context of the poem—the Arthurian tradition, the linguistic qualities of late Middle English, and the birth of print culture in England. Our discussion of these subjects will open questions about how periods of literary history are defined by material and literary textual phenomena, as well as broader questions about how the modern idea of the medieval period was shaped by Le Morte D’Arthur and late medieval romance in general.

Course Details

  • Grading Basis: Letter Grade or Credit/No Credit
  • Unit-Range Information: 3 units for students outside of major and for students who want to transfer units to their home institution; 5 units for students in major to count toward major program requirements.
  • Limited Enrollment Details: Flexible on enrollment cap, but the cap helps keep the course at a seminar level and provides a better ratio of students per instructor.
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