MIT OpenCourseWare
  • OCW home
  • Course List
  • about OCW
  • Help
  • Feedback
  • Support MIT OCW

Readings

Course readings are also listed by session.

Text for Purchase

Bede. The Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0192829122.

Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Translated by Lewis Thrope. New York, NY; London, UK: Penguin Books, 1966.

Gerald of Wales. The History and Topography of Ireland. Translated by John J. O'Meara. New York, NY; London, UK: Penguin Books, 1951, 1982. ISBN: 0140444238.

———. The Journey through Wales, The Description of Wales. Translated by Lewis Thrope. New York, NY; London, UK: Penguin Books, 1978. ISBN: 0140443398.

Chrétien de Troyes. The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot). Translated by Burton Raffel. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0300071213.

———. The Story of the Grail (Perceval). Translated by Burton Raffel. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999. ISBN: 0300075863.

Marie de France. The Lais of Marie de France. Translated by Joan Ferrante, and Robert Hanning. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 1995. ISBN: 080102031X. [LMF]

Arthur, Ross G., tr. Three Arthurian Romances: Poems from Medieval France. London, UK: Everyman, 1996. ISBN: 0460875779.

Lacy, Norris J., ed. The Lancelot-Grail Reader. New York, NY: Garland, 2000. ISBN: 0815334192. [L-GR]

Texts On-Line

Evans, Sebastian, tr. Perlesvaux (The High History of the Holy Graal). 1898.

Texts in Course Reader

Gillingham, John. "The Beginnings of English Imperialism." In The English in the Twelfth Century: Imperialism, National Identity and Political Values. Woodbridge, UK: Boydell Press, 2000, pp. 3-18. ISBN: 0851157327.

Davies, R. R. "The High Kingship of the British Isles." In The First English Empire: Power and Identities in the British Isles 1093-1343. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2000, pp. 4-30. ISBN: 0199257248.

Carpenter, David. "Britain Remodelled: King Stephen, 1135-54, King David, 1124-53, and the Welsh Rulers," and "King Henry II, Britain and Ireland, 1154-89." In The Struggle for Mastery: The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003, 2005, pp. 163-244. ISBN: 0140148248.

James, Simon. The Atlantic Celts: Ancient People or Modern Invention? London, UK: British Museum Press, 1999, pp. 15-66. ISBN: 0714121657.

Gildas. The Ruin of Britain and Other Works. Translated by Michael Winterbottom. London, UK; Chichester, UK: Phillimore, 1978, pp. 13-79. ISBN: 0847660796.

Hanning, Robert. "Gildas' De excidio et conquestu Britanniae: In Britain's Fall They Sinnèd All." In The Vision of History in Early Britain: From Gildas to Geoffrey of Monmouth. New York, NY; London, UK: Columbia University Press, 1966, pp. 44-62.

Nennius. British History and the Welsh Annals. Translated by John Morris. London, UK; Chichester, UK: Phillimore, 1980, pp. 9-49. ISBN: 0850332974.

Higham, N. J. "Contested Histories: Anglo-Saxons and Britons c. 730-830." In King Arthur: Myth-Making and History. London, UK; New York, NY: Routledge, 2002, pp. 98-169. ISBN: 0415213053.

White, Hayden. "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality." In The Content and the Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation. Baltimore, MD; London, UK: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987, pp. 1-25. ISBN: 0801841151.

Ingledew, Francis. "The Book of Troy and the Genealogical Construction of History." Speculum 69, no. 3 (1994): 665-704.

Warren, Michelle. "Historia in marchia: Geoffrey of Monmouth's Colonial Itinerary." In History on the Edge: Excalibur and the Borders of Britain, 1100-1300. Minneapolis, MN; London, UK: University of Minnesota Press, 2000, pp. 25-59. ISBN: 0816634912.

Pearsall, Derek. "The Romancing of the Arthurian Story: Chrétien de Troyes." In Arthurian Romance: A Short Introduction. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2003, pp. 20-39. ISBN: 0631233202.

Cain, James. "Unnatural History: Gender and Genealogy in Gerald of Wales's Topographia Hibernica." Essays in Medieval Studies 19 (2002): 29-43.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome, ed. "Hybrids, Monsters, Borderlands: The Bodies of Gerald of Wales." In The Postcolonial Middle Ages. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 2000, pp. 85-104. ISBN: 0312219296.

Barber, Richard. "The Eucharist and the Grail." In The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004, pp. 135-147. ISBN: 0674013905.

Readings by Session

SES # TOPICS READINGS
1 Introduction, The Matter of Britain: Nomenclature and National Identity
2 English Imperialism in the Twelfth-Century Gillingham. "The Beginnings of English Imperialism."

Davies. "The High Kingship of the British Isles."

Carpenter. "Britain Remodelled," and "King Henry II, Britain and Ireland, 1154-89."

James. The Atlantic Celts.
3 Imperialist History I: Hebrew Models of Historical Narrative Gildas. The Ruin of Britain.

Hanning. "Gildas' De excidio et conquestu Britanniae: In Britain's Fall They Sinnèd All."
4 Imperialist History II: Roman Models of Secular History Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Book I.i-xxii.
5 Imperialist History III: Christian Models of Salvation History Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Book I.xxiii-xxxiv.
6 The Return of the Repressed: Multiplicity and the Marvelous Nennius. British History.

———. The Welsh Annals.

Higham. "Contested Histories."

White. "The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality."
7 Student Presentations
8 Reconquering the Past: The Motifs of Rivalry and Revenge Geoffrey of Monmouth. History of the Kings of Britain. Parts I-VI.

Ingledew. "The Book of Troy and the Genealogical Construction of History."
9 The Cause of Liberty and the Roots of British Disunity Geoffrey of Monmouth. History of the Kings of Britain. Parts VII-VIII.

Warren. "Historia in marchia: Geoffrey of Monmouth's Colonial Itinerary."
10 The Hero of the Nation: Rescue and Redemption Chrétien de Troyes. The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot). vv.1-3905.

Pearsall. "The Romancing of the Arthurian Story: Chrétien de Troyes."
11 Private Passions: The Political as Personal Chrétien de Troyes. The Knight of the Cart (Lancelot). vv.3906-7121.
12 Unnatural History: Linearity, Lineage, and Land Management Gerald of Wales. The History and Topography of Ireland.

Cain. "Unnatural History."

Cohen. "Hybrids, Monsters, Borderlands."
13 Land of Enchantment: Monsters, Marvels, and Mastery Gerald of Wales. The Journey through Wales.

———. The Description of Wales.
14 Liberty and License: The Situational Ethics of Erotic Entanglements Marie de France. Prologue, Guigemar, Equitan, Le Frêne, Bisclavret, Lanval, The Two Lovers.
15 Celtic Adventures and the Opportunities for Individual Self-Realization Marie de France. Yonec, Laüstic, Milon, Chaitivel, Chevrefeuil, Eliduc.
16 Misadventures of the Noble Savage Chrétien de Troyes. The Story of the Grail (Perceval). vv.1-6236.
17 The Dissolution of Britain: The Great Revolt of 1173-74 Chrétien de Troyes. The Story of the Grail (Perceval). vv.6237-9235.
18 Gender Trouble: Parody and the Play of Perspectives in the Gawain Romances The Knight with the Sword, The Perilous Graveyard.
19 Student Presentations
20 Contemptus Mundi: Gothic Horror and the Grotesque Perlesvaux. Branches I-VII.

Barber. "The Eucharist and the Grail."
21 Lateran IV, Lay Spirituality, and Affective Piety Perlesvaux. Branches VIII-XXI.
22 The World as Text Perlesvaux. Branches XXII-XXXV.
23 Cyclical Developments Lancelot. Parts 1-3. [L-GR]
24 Knight Errantry Lancelot. Parts 4-6. [L-GR]
25 Apocalyptic Visions and Cistercian Revisionism The History of the Holy Grail.

The Quest for the Holy Grail. [L-GR]
26 The End of an Era The Death of Arthur. [L-GR]