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Arthur: Rex Quondam, Rexque Futurus

From Celtic Britain to post-apocalyptic Britain, and even to outer space, the story of King Arthur lives on, with each generation reshaping it slightly or finding something within it that speaks to them. The possible historical Arthur remains a subject of interest and debate for scholars and enthusiasts, with last September’s Smithsonian magazine describing only part of that quest. The Arthurian stories themselves evolve and develop throughout the Middle Ages with Welsh, French, and other storytellers exchanging characters and material, reshaping the tales in the courtly love tradition, and adding images from their own traditions and mythologies. The Grail legend and other mythic archetypes appear and are developed. Nineteenth-century authors both romanticize and satirize the tales. In the twentieth century, authors try to reclaim the historical Arthur and continue to develop the legend. Recent scholars and writers have turned as well to the women in the tales, looking back at the power they might have possessed in the Celtic world and rejecting the medieval divisions of women into saints and temptresses. 


In this discussion class, we will read a sampler of the earliest history and medieval versions of the tales. We will look as well at the mythological patterns of the tales. As we follow the story through the centuries we will explore the appeal and portrayal of the story in each period. We will focus especially on the ideal of the hero and sacrifice and on the portrayal of women. 

Our central text for the first half of the term will be Arthur, King of Britain, edited by Richard L. Brengle, and published by Prentice Hall. Although this book is out of print, it is available reasonably from various used book sites.

Instructor Ann Nesslage is a graduate of Vassar, with a M.A. in British literature from Bryn Mawr. Ann retired from Choate Rosemary Hall, where she taught different levels of literature including British Studies and world literature. She also created electives in fantasy literature, satire, Early Irish and Welsh literature, and other topics. Ann lives in Bremen, where she enjoys reading and gardening and serves on the Bremen Conservation Commission and the library board. She is also a member of the CSC board and the Curriculum Committee. 

Members must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to register for this course.
We will follow the current mask policy of the course site. 

If you want to register and are not yet a member, Click here for New Member Signup

Friday, April 7, 2023, 1:30 PM until Friday, May 26, 2023, 3:00 PM
Bremen Library
204 Waldoboro Rd
Bremen, ME  04551
Additional Info:
Event Contact(s):
Ann C Nesslage
Spring 2023
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only
You must be an active CSC member to register for this course.
Cancellation Policy:
A member may cancel a course registration up to 3 days prior to the start of class and will receive a course credit that can be used for a future registration. No refunds will be given.