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The University of Southampton

ENGL2097 Arthurian Worlds

Module Overview

The figures of King Arthur, Guinevere, his knights and court have exercised a powerful hold over the minds of readers for many centuries. But have you ever wondered about where this legend came from, how it developed, and about the enduring nature of its appeal? On this module, we will examine a range of Arthurian stories from medieval, renaissance and later periods. Our focus will be on the physical and social worlds created by these texts, and their relationship to the worlds in which these stories were enjoyed. We will consider how writers in different periods and genres used Arthurian stories, environments, motifs, and a mythologised past world to explore and critique the political, social and gender relations of their own societies; to forge and contest identities; and to figure new relationships between past and present worlds.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Carry out research and analysis on a range of source types from different periods
  • Articulate the results of your research and analyses orally and in writing
  • Plan and carry out different assessment tasks to deadlines
Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Critically compare and analyse different deployments of Arthurian motifs
  • Consider the importants of the generic, social, historical and linguistic contexts in which Arthurian worlds are remade
  • Analytically compare the uses made of the past and the ways in which it was contested in a range of different historical periods


The texts we will examine on this module will take us from the rise of Arthurian stories in England and Wales, through fourteenth-sixteenth century vernacularisations, critiques, and reimaginings of the legend, to attempts to on the one hand remould the legend and, on the other, establish its historicity, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Specific texts for study will vary from year to year but will normally include a selection from the following: • Geoffrey of Monmouth, History of the Kings of Britain • Chretien de Troyes, Perceval • Marie de France, Lais • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight • Geoffrey Chaucer, the Wife of Bath’s Tale • Thomas Malory, Morte DArthur • Edmund Spenser, Faerie Queene • Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Idylls of the King • Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur’s Court • Roger Lancelyn Green, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table • T. H. White, The Once and Future King • John Morris, The Age of Arthur • Graham Anderson, King Arthur in Antiquity

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

1 x 45 min lecture and 1 x 45 min seminar per week Group work Informal individual and group presentations Individual study This module includes a Learning Support Hour. This is a flexible weekly contact hour, designed to support and respond to the particular cohort taking the module from year to year. This hour will include (but not be limited to) activities such as language, theory and research skills classes; group work supervisions; assignment preparation and essay writing guidance; assignment consultations; feedback and feed-forward sessions.

Completion of assessment task50
Preparation for scheduled sessions50
Follow-up work8
Wider reading or practice10
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

William W. Kibler and R. Barton Palmer (2014). Medieval Arthurian Epic and Romance : Eight New Translations. 

Elizabeth Archibald and Ad Putter (2009). The Cambridge Companion to the Arthurian Legend. 


Patricia Clare Ingham (2001). Sovereign Fantasies: Arthurian Romance and the Making of Britain. 

Michael A. Faletra (2014). Wales and the Medieval Colonial Imagination. 

Dixon, Jeffrey John (2014). The Glory of Arthur: The Legendary King in Epic Poems of Layamon, Spenser and Blake. 

Michelle R. Warren (2000). History on the edge : Excalibur and the borders of Britain, 1100-1300. 

O.J. Padel (2013). Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature. 

The Camelot Project.

Derek Pearsall (2003). Arthurian Romance: A Short Introduction. 

Sources for the Study of the Arthurian Legends.

Roger Sherman Loomis (1959). Arthurian Literature in the Middle Ages : A Collaborative History. 

Rachel Bromwich, A.O.H. Jarman, Brynley F. Roberts (1991). The Arthur of the Welsh : The Arthurian Legend in Medieval Welsh Literature. 

Daniel P. Nastali and Phillip C. Boardman (2004). The Arthurian Annals : The Tradition in English from 1250 to 2000. 

Alan Lupack (2005). The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend. 

Rhiannon Purdie and Nicola Royan (2005). The Scots and Medieval Arthurian Legend. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Critical Analysis 30%
Essay  (2500 words) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (2500 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External


Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Books and Stationery equipment

Students will be required to obtain their own copies of core module texts, but these costs will not exceed £30.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

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