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2011/12 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ENGL3208 Arthurian Legend: Chivalry and Violence

20 creditsClass Size: 20


Module manager: Dr Catherine Batt

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2011/12

Pre-requisite qualifications

Grade B at 'A' Level in English Language or Literature (or equivalent) or an achieved mark of 56 or above in a Level 1 module in English (or its non-UK equivalent).

Please note: This module is restricted to Level 2 and 3 students.

This module is mutually exclusive with

ENGL32540Devel. of the Arthurian Legend

Module replaces


This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

The thirteenth-century English writer Lawman confidently asserts that King Arthur is 'meat and drink' to poets, and this will be true 'as long as this world lasts'.We shall read Geoffrey of Monmouth, Welsh texts, Chretien de Troyes and Malory to chart how Arthurian story evolves from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, and how texts reinterpret, for their own times, motifs such as the formation of the Round Table, the quest for the Grail, the adultery of Lancelot and Guinevere, the treachery of Mordred and the ultimate tragic downfall of Arthur's Kingdom.Medieval historians argue vigorously over whether chivalry is a brutalizing or civilising force, a cynical means of oppression or the expression of the highest idealism. We investigate the place of chivalry and violence in Arthurian narratives and ask how their representation reflects on relations between the sexes and on the legend's political and historical importance; we shall also look at aspects of the development and representation of arms and armour.There will also be the opportunity to research how nineteenth- to twenty-first-century works, from novels and poetry to films, engage with the exhilarating, dynamic and troubling legacy of medieval Arthuriana to recreate Arthurs for our own age.


By the end of the module, students will have:
- read important Arthurian texts from the twelfth to the fifteenth centuries, and considered their interrelation;
- developed an awareness of the historical contexts of Arthurian literature, and specifically of aspects of the ethical and ideological debates over chivalry that are of central concern to medieval Arthurian texts;
- considered how literary texts mediate cultural and historical concerns; understood different genres and their importance to interpretation;
- had the opportunity to undertake independent research into relations between medieval and modern Arthurian texts.

Learning outcomes
Students will have developed:
- the ability to use written and oral communication effectively;
- the capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse;
- the ability to manage quantities of complex information in a structured and systematic way;
- the capacity for independent thought and judgement;
- critical reasoning;
- research skills, including the retrieval of information, the organisation of material and the evaluation of its importance;
- IT skills;
- efficient time management and organisation skills;
- the ability to learn independently.

Skills outcomes
- Skills for effective communication, oral and written.
- Capacity to analyse and critically examine diverse forms of discourse.
- Ability to acquire quantities of complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way.
- Capacity for independent thought and judgement.
- Critical reasoning.
- Research skills, including information retrieval skills, the organisation of material, and the evaluation of its importance.
- IT skills.
- Time management and organisational skills.
- Independent learning.


Week 1: Historiography, and the ethical debates to which Arthurian literature gives rise
Week 2: Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain
Week 3: Romances of Chretien de Troyes, I
Week 4: Romances of Chretien de Troyes, II
Week 5: Malory: The Story of Arthur and Merlin
Week 6: Malory and History in The Book of Arthur and Lucius
Week 7: Malory's heroes and violence: Lancelot and Garete
Week 8: Tournament: The Book of Sir Tristram
Week 9: The Grail and the Book of the Sankgreal
Week 10: The Morte Darthur.

Lectures / plenary sessions include:
- discussion of historiographical approaches
- lectures on Arthur as mythic/legendary subject
- on Chretien
- on Malory
- discussion of post-medieval Arthuriana.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours185.00
Total Contact hours15.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Teaching will be through weekly seminars (10 x 1 hour) plus up to 5 additional hours (content to be determined by the module tutor).
- The 5 additional hours may include lectures, plenary sessions, film showings, or the return of unassessed/assessed essays.

Private Study: Reading, seminar preparation and essay writing.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

- Seminar contribution
- Unassessed essay (Week 7).

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

One unassessed essay of approximately 1700 words (including quotations and footnotes) is required, for which the deadline is given in the Undergraduate Student Handbook. This does not form part of the examination for this module, but is a module requirement and MUST be submitted. Students who fail to submit the unassessed essay will be awarded a maximum mark of 40 for the module (a bare Pass).

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 06/03/2012


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