ENGLISH 311: Legends of Arthur

  Click here for the SCHEDULE.


This syllabus is subject to change. The latest version on this website is the binding syllabus.

Office: Bartlett 259
Office Hours: By appointment.
545-6598 | sharris at english.umass.edu


  E311, Fall 2006
TTh, 11:15 am - 12:30 pm; Bartlett Hall


This course introduces you to the major texts of the Arthurian tradition, to their readers, and to their influence.


Please come to class; university guidelines for absence will be enforced. Check your handbook.


Will be available at Amhest Book in Amherst (8 Main St).

1. Marie de France, The Lais of Marie de France, trans. Hanning and Ferrante.

2. Chrétien de Troyes, The Complete Romances of Chrétien de Troyes, Trans. Staines.
3. Malory, Le Morte d'Arthur, trans. Lumiansky. 4. Lacy et al., eds. and trans.The Lancelot-Grail Reader.
5. Beroul. The Romance of Tristan, trans. Fedrick (Penguin) 6. Andreas Capellanus. The Art of Courtly Love, trans. Parry.
7. The Mabinogion, trans. Ganz (Penguin)  

To find your readings, check the schedule.

I recommend that you purchase these translations. Others may do in a pinch, but will compromise your close readings in class.

You will be graded on your knowledge of content, not only of the literature but also of the history and culture surrounding the literature.


The general objectives of this course are three: 1) to give you a firm grounding in primary texts, 2) to introduce you to allegorical reading, and 3) to encourage you in the written application of critical tools.

We will be begin by discussing allegory. (If you are unable to distinguish between a historical source and an allegorical tale, then you have insufficient means of assessing the veracity, details, and literary appeal of the Arthurian corpus.) We will then turn to medieval historical sources that employ the allegorical method, such as Bede, Gildas, and Nennius. From there, we move to the Arthur corpus.

You are expected to complete your readings prior to each class--the readings average about 100 pages per class. If you're not going to do the reading, then this class will be a waste of your time, and your success seriously imperiled.


Due dates are listed on the schedule. The focus of this class is on the informed judgment of medieval literature. For that reason, your grade is based largely on research papers. But you are also expected to remember the facts (the "informed" bit); so, there is a weighty exam.
Two (2) short papers, 500 words each. (15% + 20% = 35%). One longer paper (35%) 1000 to 1500 words (about 5 pages).
One final exam. 30%  

  • ALL MISSED ASSIGNMENTS GET AN "F." If you foresee being absent, please let me know well beforehand.
  • PLAGIARISM GETS AN "F." This may be for the paper or for the course, at my discretion. The penalties for plagiarism are quite strict. If you have any questions whatsoever about whether you are citing sources correctly, contact me. The study of literature is especially concerned with developing your ability to make educated aesthetic and theoretical judgments. This development is stunted if you circumvent your education through plagiarism. For more information, consult your handbook and the pages in this site devoted to plagiarism (see "Resources").
  • ALL PAPERS MUST BE TYPED OR WORD-PROCESSED. Not doing so reduces your grade by one letter-value (e.g., "C" down to "D").

For my requirements with respect to A, AB, C, etc., see: 1) Grading, and 2) Papers and Policies.


class N   holiday N
paper N   test N


Su M Tu W Th F Sa
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30


Su M Tu W Th F Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31        


Su M Tu W Th F Sa
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30  


Su M Tu W Th F Sa
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Academic Calendar 2006


Please meet with me at least once during the semester (at the least to check your grades with me to ensure my gradebook and your grades match up). Please make an appointment to meet with me at a time convenient to you and I will try to oblige.



Camelot Project (at U Rochester). All the sources you'll need!

Medieval Sourcebook. Everything.

Arthurnet (mailing list with lots of links). Includes a quick intro to Arthur.

Texts of Medieval Romances and more at TEAMS.

Tom Green's insanely great site. And Bonnie Wheeler's wicked good site.

Runes (Norse Futharc) Cause they're nifty. Same site has Ogham.

NOTE 1: Please make and keep a copy of all your assignments. That copy may be a disc copy. In case any difficulties arise with respect to misplaced assignments or with respect to discrepancies between your records and my own, I will accept the evidence of your computer system's dating function. For your own peace of mind, I suggest that you lock any document on the day it is due. That will prevent your computer's operating system from associating your document with a later date.

NOTE 2: The course schedule is subject to change. It is not to be construed as a substitute for your attendance or as a catalogue of all the information for which you are responsible. All changes will be announced with a reasonable lead time. This syllabus constitutes a binding contract between the student and the professor. If you do not agree with any of the provisions set herein or if you foresee disagreeing with any of the provisions which may be reasonably added during the course of the term, then you are free to drop this class within the time allotted by the university.

NOTE 3:All material pertaining to this course--namely handouts, quizzes, exams, tests, maps, graphs, charts, printed matter, recorded matter, electronic matter including but not limited to this syllabus and associated electronic documents, films, video clips, conversations, office consultations, classroom responses, lectures, asides, answers to classroom queries, and related utterances--is copyrighted material and is subject to international and US laws of copyright. Enrollment in this course constitutes tacit acceptance of this agreement and of the copyright claims made therein. Any breach of this agreement or use of copyrighted material by any member of the university or the public without prior consent will be met with legal action.