Legends of King Arthur: Medieval to Modern

ENGL 281/3.0


This course investigates the enduring popularity of the legend of Arthur, with an emphasis on its adaptability to the changing values and viewpoints of different cultural moments (Celtic, Medieval, Victorian, Modern). Themes to be investigated may include chivalry, courtly love, the grail quest, national identity, politics and gender relationships.

Please note: This course is typically offered in the fall term - every other term

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 2024
Course Dates
Delivery Mode


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

**Evaluation Subject to Change**

Proctored Exams  
Exam Centre Location, Eligibility, and Fees  

Students enrolled exclusively in online courses may choose one of two options to write this course’s proctored assessments:  

  1. You may choose to write the assessments online under supervision of Examity proctoring services. A $100 fee will be charged to your SOLUS account. This fee is known as the Off Campus Exam Admin Fee and is applied in SOLUS at the earlier of: term tuition posting date, or the date at which exam writing method is changed to online. The fee is assessed once per ASO course with proctored assessments.  
  2. You may choose to write the assessments in-person on Queen’s campus in Kingston at no additional charge.  

Students enrolled in at least one on-campus course are expected to write this course’s proctored assessments on-campus during the scheduled exam time. They will not be permitted to write this course’s proctored assessments online.

Students were prompted to indicate their preferred exam writing method when enrolling in the course in SOLUS. The exam writing method may be changed by contacting the ASO Exams Team at aso.exams@queensu.ca.  

Information for students writing online assessments using Examity

Selected assessments in this course will be administered in onQ using online proctoring provided by Examity, a third-party, cloud-based service. This proctoring solution was chosen to support our efforts in maintaining academic integrity when online proctoring is required. Queen’s has conducted an extensive privacy and security review of Examity and has entered into a binding agreement with terms that address the appropriate collection, use and disclosure of personal information in accordance with Ontario’s privacy legislation. To learn more about online proctoring, please see the information provided by the Office of the University Registrar.  

If you registered to write online with Examity, all information pertaining to the technical requirements and preparation for writing online will be posted in onQ well in advance of your exam. 

The use of Examity as described is unique to courses offered by the Faculty of Arts and Science Online. Other Faculties use online proctoring solutions in different ways under different regulations. Students should  contact the appropriate Faculty examination team if they have questions.  

Timing of Final Examinations  

The exam period dates for each Term are listed on the Faculty of Arts and Science webpage under "Important Dates". Student exam schedules for the Fall Term are posted to SOLUS immediately prior to the Thanksgiving holiday; for the Winter Term they are posted on the Friday before Reading Week, and for the Summer Term they are individually noted on the Arts and Science Online syllabi. Students should not make any travel plans until after the examination schedule has been posted. Exams will not be moved or deferred to accommodate employment, travel/holiday plans or flight reservations. Students experiencing extenuating circumstances preventing them from writing their exams as scheduled should review the information about the Academic Consideration process

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.