First-Year Seminar: “The Legend of King Arthur in Literature and Film”
The legend of the “Once and Future King,” Arthur of Camelot, has fascinated poets, artists, writers, and filmmakers. In this course students will read and view a selection of different versions of the Arthur legend, beginning with the earliest surviving, sixth-century witness to the legend, until, in the final weeks modern films on the legend. In investigating this body of material, students will engage with its re-creation and transmission over time. Focusing on the themes of leadership, gender, and love, we will explore how each work understands Arthur and his milieu and the implications of each vision for the political and cultural worlds in which it originates. We will approach these questions through discussions of both content and form, considering the ways in which the formal aspects of the works shape meaning. Students will improve their skills in reading and interpretation by grappling with older texts that challenge modern expectations of fiction; acquire a deeper knowledge of the wealth of Arthurian texts from the past; acquire a more nuanced understanding of the medieval world; and gain an appreciation for the modernity of present-day adaptations on the Arthurian legend.