The Quest of the Library (a bibliographical exercise)

English 205
Legends of Arthur

Choose a character (or object or place) from the following list. Provide a brief (1-2 page) description of its appearances in the tradition: when and where does he/she/it first appear? which later texts contribute to the development of the character/object/place? how does it develop-- if you're dealing with a person, is he/she hero or villain? If you've chosen something inanimate, is it good or bad? Does this change over time? According to other influences? Annotate this narrative using either footnotes or parenthetical citations to show where the information you provide came from (see example attached). You do not need to read all of the texts you come up with, although "reading around"in whatever you can get your hands on is a good idea. Include a brief critical bibliography, with annotations showing that you have read and thought about at least 3 books, parts of books, or articles dealing with your chosen character. At least one source should not be among those listed below.You may also, if you like, discuss the role of the character in modern Arthurian literature.

This assignment will be due by 5:00 on January 28

  • Guenevere
  • Lancelot
  • Gareth
  • Gawain
  • Merlin
  • Morgan le Fay
  • Avalon
  • The Fisher King
  • Perceval
  • Excalibur
  • Camelot
  • Mordred

Please use an appropriate documentary style, MLA or Chicago. If you are unsure about documentation, check a writing handbook, or the Resources link on the English Department's Homepage,

To see what your finished project should look like, here is an example using an Arthurian character we will not encounter in this class.

A few good places to start your research:

Begin with your anthology, The Romance of Arthur-- read ahead, read bits we are skipping, use the bibliography at the end of the introductory essays in each chapter. Then sample some of the following books on reserve, in the reference room, or in the stacks:

You may want to explore the Arthuriana Homepage on the World Wide Web, which provides links to a variety of Arthurian sites. Arthuriana is also a print journal worth getting acquainted with (I have the last 3 years' worth; Magill doesn't). The Arthuriana/Camelot Project Bibliographies are extensive and particularly good on contemporary retellings of Arthurian material.

Do a keyword search for either books or articles. Try lancelot, king arthur, arthurian and literature, arthurian and women, medieval and arthurian, etc.


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