Arthurian Literature

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
20 August 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

The stories associated with King Arthur are among the most enduring in western culture. From the medieval Welsh annals to BBC children's programming, Arthurian texts have been rewritten for, and appropriated by, every generation. This module proposes to follow the changing text in various forms (poetry, prose and film) from the establishment of the corpus in the middle ages, to the use of the legend in the project of nation building, or rebuilding, at various, fraught points of English history.

We will also examine Arthurian literature's emergence in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as a matter for children's books and film, and to look at the imaginative pull exerted by the grail legend on T.S. Eliot and modernist writing. The module is intended to be interdisciplinary: Arthurian film and television are central to our discussions, and students can choose to present their coursework as either a critical essay or a creative response to Arthurian texts.

Module aims

To introduce students to an influential and coherent group of texts not currently offered for study at Essex.
To emphasise the interdisciplinary remit of the Department by taking approaches from literary, film, and creative studies, and applying them to a single body of texts.

Module learning outcomes

The student will be familiar with a group of texts significant for their literary merit.
By studying the changing treatment of the same myth over a period of many centuries, the student will be able to evaluate the effect of political and socio-historical circumstances on the creation of literary texts.
Skills in presentation and analysis will be developed in the seminars on this module.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Weekly 2-hour seminar


  • Fuqua, Antoine; Owen, Clive; Knightley, Keira. (2004) King Arthur, [London]: Touchstone Pictures.
  • Philip Sidney; Kingsley Hart. (1959) Astrophel and Stella, London: Folio Society.
  • Lupack, Alan. (2005) The Oxford guide to Arthurian literature and legend, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wagner, Richard; Ventris, Christopher; Lehnhoff, Nikolaus; Grimm, Thomas; Festspielchor Baden-Baden; Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. (c2005) Parsifal, Heathfield: Opus Arte.
  • Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson; Gray, James Martin. (2004) Idylls of the king, London: Penguin Books.
  • Morris, William; King, Jessie M. (1905) The defence of Guenevere, New York: J. Lane. vol. Flowers of Parnassus
  • Tolkien, J. R. R.; Tolkien, Christopher. (1995) Sir Gawain and the green knight: Pearl and ; Sir Orfeo, London: HarperCollinsPublishers.
  • Crossley-Holland, Kevin. (2000) The seeing stone, London: Orion. vol. Arthur
  • Boorman, John; Malory, Thomas; Terry, Nigel; Williamson, Nicol; Mirren, Helen; Lunghi, Cherie. (no date) Excalibur.
  • Andrew, Malcolm; Waldron, Ronald; British Library. (2007) The poems of the Pearl manuscript: Pearl, Cleanness, Patience, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Exeter: University of Exeter Press. vol. Exeter medieval texts and studies
  • Armitage, Simon. (c2007) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, London: Faber and Faber.
  • Swinburne, Algernon Charles; Binyon, Laurence. (1995) The works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, Ware: Wordsworth. vol. Wordsworth poetry library
  • Malory, Thomas; Vinaver, Eugène. (c1971) Works [of] Malory, Oxford: Oxford University Press. vol. Oxford paperbacks ; 384
  • Ferguson, Arthur B. (c1986) The chivalric tradition in Renaissance England, Cranbury, NJ: Associated University Presses. vol. Folger Books
  • Tennyson, Alfred Tennyson; Ricks, Christopher. (2007) Selected poems, London: Penguin Books. vol. Penguin classics
  • Spenser, Edmund; Roche, Thomas P.; O'Donnell, C. Patrick. (1978) The faerie queene, London: Penguin. vol. Penguin Classics
  • Dryden, John. (1691) King Arthur, or the British Worthy.
  • Malory, Thomas; Cooper, Helen. (2008) Le morte d'Arthur: the Winchester manuscript, Oxford: Oxford University Press. vol. Oxford world's classics
  • 102. A Farewell to Arms. George Peele. The Oxford Book of English Verse,
  • White, T. H. (1996) The once and future king, London: Voyager.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Essay 13/03/2020 95%
Practical Participation marks 5%

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Patricia Gillies
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Prof Duncan James Salkeld
Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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