FR3102 Arthurian Romance: Chrétien de Troyes
Term 1 and 2
Convenor: Ruth Harvey
Formative piece (0%)
Essay 1: 30%, 2,000- 2,500 words
Exam: (70%) (2 hours and 15 mins)
In this course we focus on detailed study of two closely connected medieval legends of King Arthur, which deal at one and the same time with the development and the subversion of an important vernacular literary form (the romance), the notion of courtly love and the representation of contemporary aristocratic society. The two works by Chrétien de Troyes, Le Chevalier au Lion and Le Chevalier de la Charrete (also known as Yvain and Lancelot), are generally regarded among the most successful romances in the Middle Ages, perhaps because they raise so many questions. We will look at issues surrounding idealisation (of the hero, of his beloved, King Arthur and his court, courtly love, social structures and the code of chivalry) in the light of medieval poetic conventions, audience reception and social history. The two texts offer the opportunity to examine the notions of ‘Chivalry’, the role of the knight, and ‘Courtly Love’ which have been the subject of much critical work recently.
Key bibliography (primary texts):
Chrétien de Troyes, Le Chevalier au Lion: Yvain, ed. and trans. D. Hult, Le Livre de Poche, “Lettres Gothiques” series (with parallel translation into Modern French).
Chrétien de Troyes, Le Chevalier de la Charrette ou le Roman de Lancelot, ed. and trans. C. Mela, Le Livre de Poche, “Lettres Gothiques” series (with parallel translation into Modern French).
CLC: Chrétien de Troyes: Arthurian Romances, trans. W.W. Kibler (Penguin Classics)
Secondary Reading (sample):
(a full critical reading list will be supplied at the start of the course)
A. Putter, ‘Knights and Clerics at the court of Champagne: Chrétien de Troyes’s romances in context’, in Medieval Knighthood V, ed. S. Church and R.E. Harvey (Woodbridge, 1995), pp. 243-66
The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Romance, ed. R.L. Krueger (Cambridge, CUP, 2000)
A Companion to Chrétien de Troyes, ed. N.J. Lacy and J. Grimbert (Cambridge, 2005)
S.B. Gaunt, Gender and Genre in Medieval French Literature (CUP, 1995)
K. Gravdal, ‘Chrétien de Troyes, Gratian and the Medieval Romance of Sexual Violence’, Signs, 17 (1992), 558-85
M. Bruckner, ‘An Interpreter’s dilemma: Why are there so many interpretations of Chrétien’s Chevalier de la Charrette ?’, Romance Philology, 40 (1986), pp.159-80