Legends of King Arthur: Medieval to Modern

ENGL 281/3.0


This course introduces students to the literary tradition surrounding King Arthur, from the early medieval period to the twentieth century, focusing on the tradition within Great Britain. The course will follow the Arthurian myth, its stories and its characters, as they evolve through time in different contexts, and through different genres, from early romances to twentieth-century musical drama. Special attention will be paid to notions of kingship, nation, and gender as represented within Arthurian literature.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete this course should be able to:

  • Identify and describe major Arthurian texts, giving examples of writers and works.
  • Compare themes and styles of Arthurian texts from different periods of literature.
  • Analyze passages from Arthurian literature, noting important elements in form and content.
  • Formulate, develop and construct persuasive arguments based on evidence from the texts.
  • Convey arguments in clear, coherent and grammatical prose. Individual students’ grades will be based on how well they accomplish the learning outcomes.


Fall 2023
Course Dates
Exam Dates (if applicable)
Delivery Mode


15% - Online Discussions
20% - Short Written Reponses to Discussion Questions (x2)
30% - Essay (1800 - 2000 words)
35% - Take-Home Final Exam

**Evaluation Subject to Change**

Textbook and Materials

ASO reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at http://www.campusbookstore.com/Textbooks/Search-Engine to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.

Required texts and Readings (available from Queen's Campus Bookstore at http://www.campusbookstore.com/)

On-line readings:

  • Marie de France, Lanval
  • The Cambridge Companion to Arthurian Legends, “Introduction,” “The Early Arthur, History and Myth”
  • The Mabinogion “Culhwch and Olwen”
  • Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott”
  • Selected poems by Edwin Muir, Thom Gunn and Geoffrey Hill

 Recommended guides and companions to Arthurian literature:

  • The Cambridge Companion to Arthurian Legends, ed. Elizabeth Archibold and Ad Putter
  • A Companion to Arthurian Literature, ed. Helen Fulton
  • The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend by Alan Lupack

**Subject To Change**

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend on average, about 9-10 hours per week (120 hours per term) on the course.