ENG32740 King Arthur: History & Romance

Academic Year 2023/2024

King Arthur is probably the most well known figure of the early English period. His marriage to Guinevere, her adulterous affair with Launcelot and, of course, the high-standing of his Knights of the Round Table are cultural reference points in English literature and history. First mention of him occurs in Celtic and Welsh literature, but it was in Geoffrey of Monmouth‘s History of Britain that the Arthurian myth established itself, creating a cultural hero that plays a significant part in the emergence and later reconfigurations of English identity. Half mythical, half historical, Arthur and his knights are at the epicentre of cycles of knightly adventures, romance tales, songs, poetry and drama and, even in the past century or so, film. If you ever have wondered how the myth of Arthur began and developed, this is the module for you. In this course, we will examine the origins of the Arthurian myth and its representation across a number of genres and texts, paying particular attention to the Middle Ages and Renaissance period, as well as closing with a look at Arthur’s afterlives in modern literature and film. We will consider the ways in which the Arthurian myth was reimagined continuously to address socio-political events, exploring matters of national identity; gender; the relationship between the past and present; fin amour; chivalry; the tension between ideals and reality; and the individual and the common good.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students will be able to
1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of medieval and early modern texts.
2. Understand the genres - including narrative strategies, motifs and literary techniques - which represent Arthur in the histories and romances taught on the module.
3. Recognise the variety of ways in which Arthur and his world can be represented, with particular attention to relationship between the past and present in the texts taught on the module.
4. Engage with critical concepts such as identities and nationhood; gender and sexuality; class; history; romance; myths and legends.
5. Write a critically engaged, astute, sustained and academically sound piece of writing on texts and concepts taught on the module.

Indicative Module Content:

King Arthur
Myth and legend
Reconfigurations/Reconstructions of the past in the present; nostalgia and anchronisms.
Genres: History & Romance.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Each class is two hours in duration and will be divided into a formal delivery by the Lecturer, followed by student discussion and exploration of concepts and texts presented. Students are expected to read the material in advance and to be prepared to join the classroom discussion. The discussion will be carefully managed and will often involved response to specific tasks. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Students will be asked to produce an essay of 1,500 words, fully referenced (using MLA style) on the earlier part of the course. The submission date will be agreed at the commencement of the module. Varies over the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: Two-Hour Exam

2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Online automated feedback

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Name Role
Dr Juliet Mullins Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Assoc Professor Rebecca Stephenson Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - Autumn: All Weeks Wed 14:00 - 15:50