Session Title

The Welsh Arthur and His Afterlives in Medieval England, Scotland, and Wales

Sponsoring Organization(s)

Dept. of Celtic Languages and Literatures, Harvard Univ.

Organizer Name

Georgia Henley

Organizer Affiliation

Harvard Univ.

Presider Name

Georgia Henley

Paper Title 1

Whom Does "Arthur’s Letter" Serve? A Diplomatic Analysis of a Mock Letter Attributed to King Arthur

Presenter 1 Name

Christopher Berard

Presenter 1 Affiliation

Centre for Medieval Studies, Univ. of Toronto

Paper Title 2

The Changing Face of Arthur in Trioedd Ynys Prydain

Presenter 2 Name

Rebecca Shercliff

Presenter 2 Affiliation

Univ. of Cambridge

Paper Title 3

The Fall of the Mighty: Gawain, Geoffrey, and Layamon's Redemption

Presenter 3 Name

Kara Larson Maloney

Presenter 3 Affiliation

Binghamton Univ.

Paper Title 4

Rewriting Identity and the Figure of Arthur in Peredur vab Efrawg

Presenter 4 Name

Jenny Tan

Presenter 4 Affiliation

Univ. of California-Berkeley

Start Date

14-5-2015 1:30 PM

Session Location

Schneider 1140

Description

This session reexamines the trajectory of medieval Arthurian legend from its earliest roots in Welsh literature and history. From the Welsh vernacular folktale Culhwch ac Olwen and the well-known pseudo-historical work Historia regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the diaspora of the figure of Arthur into the literary traditions external to Wales was a rapid one, as Arthurian material circulated throughout England and Scotland, in languages as diverse as Middle English, Scots, and Anglo-Norman French, as well as Welsh itself. The figure of Arthur was repurposed by different, related cultures for very different reasons, and remained popular for a very long time. Yet his Welsh roots, and the significance of these roots, are little understood, and the overall message of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work often misinterpreted. This session invites any papers dedicated to a reassessment of the Welsh Arthur and his reception in the literary traditions of medieval Britain, whether in Laȝamon, Wace, Brut y Brenhinedd, or other writings, with special focus on the connotations of his Welshness in the politics of medieval Britain and the formation of British and English national identity. A focus on Arthur’s Welsh origins in particular allows for an increased understanding of the usage of Arthur for political and propagandistic purposes in the literature and political climate of medieval Britain, and the significance of this usage in literature.

Georgia Henley

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May 14th, 1:30 PM

The Welsh Arthur and His Afterlives in Medieval England, Scotland, and Wales

Schneider 1140

This session reexamines the trajectory of medieval Arthurian legend from its earliest roots in Welsh literature and history. From the Welsh vernacular folktale Culhwch ac Olwen and the well-known pseudo-historical work Historia regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth, the diaspora of the figure of Arthur into the literary traditions external to Wales was a rapid one, as Arthurian material circulated throughout England and Scotland, in languages as diverse as Middle English, Scots, and Anglo-Norman French, as well as Welsh itself. The figure of Arthur was repurposed by different, related cultures for very different reasons, and remained popular for a very long time. Yet his Welsh roots, and the significance of these roots, are little understood, and the overall message of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work often misinterpreted. This session invites any papers dedicated to a reassessment of the Welsh Arthur and his reception in the literary traditions of medieval Britain, whether in Laȝamon, Wace, Brut y Brenhinedd, or other writings, with special focus on the connotations of his Welshness in the politics of medieval Britain and the formation of British and English national identity. A focus on Arthur’s Welsh origins in particular allows for an increased understanding of the usage of Arthur for political and propagandistic purposes in the literature and political climate of medieval Britain, and the significance of this usage in literature.

Georgia Henley