Research in Literature and Geography or Space: Space, Place, and Landscape in Middle English Arthurian Romance
ENG-L610/L755 with Professor Patricia C Ingham
Camelot, Carlyon, and Winchester; Inglewood Forest, the Wirral and the Terne Wathelyn; the land of faerie, and the Green Castle. Insular Arthurian texts are filled with references to places, factual and fictional, real and imaginary. Throughout the Middle Ages, Arthur’s court had associations with diverse, if specific, locales in Wales, Scotland, and England, from Northumbria to Cheshire, London to Winchester, Cornwall, and outward toward Rome. This course engages current research in medieval geography and the rhetoric of place to examine the political meaning and imaginative power of the preoccupation with landscapes both real and imaginary regularly found in Middle English Arthurian Romance. What does it mean that the insular Arthurian tradition is both more specific with regard to place than is its continental analogues and sources, and more interested competitive dynamism of action within and across landscapes? What can theories of place and politics, space and gender, biopower and landscape teach us about the wide-ranging, regionally inflected, interest in tales of Arthur in the British Middle Ages? While continental Arthurian romances will be of interest, the primary focus of this course will be traditions of Middle English Arthuriana. Readings may include, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s, Historia regum Brittaniae; Gerald of Wales, Itinerarium; ME Arthurian tales, particularly those related to the figure of Gawain: The Avowing of King Arthur; The Adventures of Arthur at the Terne Wathelyn; Sir Gawain and Gallergos; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; The Alliterative Morte Arthure; The Stanzaic Morte Arthur; Malory’s Morte Darthur, selections from The Mabinogi (in translation). Expect to read theories of place and space, especially excerpts from Foucault, Balasopoulos, Bachelard, de Certeau, Lefebvre, Alaimo, and the work of various scholars on medieval geography and place.