Coming in 2023!

Stay tuned for course dates and times

More about this course

In weekly readings, resources, and live classes, you will gain a detailed understanding of the different political climates and literary genres that enabled the rise of Arthur and be guided through reading some of the best medieval renditions of Arthur’s story 

Week 1

The Historical Arthur

Week one looks for the historical Arthur. We’ll begin by going through some of the theories of who the historical Arthur might have been. We'll then turn to the earliest texts in which he appears and discuss the earliest surviving records of his reign.

Week 2

Politics and the Epic Arthur

In the second week we’ll consider how Arthur moves out of the realm of history and into the epic genre. We’ll see how his legend is developed in epic form by poets interested in celebrating and sometimes critiquing the courts of English kings.

Week 3

Arthur and Romance

In week three we will study the development of the Arthurian romance: one of the most celebrated genres of medieval literature. We’ll move outside of the terrain of history and epic to see how Arthur’s story is transformed into the magical world that many of us are most familiar with. We’ll connect this shift to the development of ideas like chivalry and courtly love.

Week 4

Magic and Merlin

This week will be all about Merlin – probably the second most famous figure of the Arthurian legend. You will be introduced to medieval ideas of magic and see where and how the famous magician and prophet developed during the medieval period.

Week 5

Arthur's Knights

In week five we will look at how tales of the knights of King Arthur’s court developed in the later Middle Ages. We’ll read one of the most famous renditions of the Arthurian legend, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and touch not only on the famous poet’s treatment of Arthur’s legend, but also some medieval ideas of poetics.

Week 6

Brotherhood and The War of the Roses

In our final week we will discuss the latest and most influential version of the Arthurian legend to survive from the medieval period: Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte de Arthur. We’ll read this famous narrative in the context of the War of the Roses and see how Malory’s own experience as a knight in that brutal war shaped his image of Arthur.

Meet Your Instructor

Kathryn Walton

Dr. Kathryn Walton holds a PhD in medieval literature and currently teaches at Lakehead University and York University. Her research focuses on magic in medieval literature and the popular poetics of the medieval period. Her scholarship on Arthurian literature has appeared in Arthuriana and L’Esplumeoir and her next book, Literary Magic in Medieval Literature, focuses on the poetics of the supernatural in Middle English manuscripts. Kathryn also writes a monthly column for Medievalists.net and is a regular contributor to the magazine Medieval World: Culture and Conflict. She has a passion for Arthurian romance and loves to bring the wonders of the medieval literary world to new audiences.

What Kathryn's students say

“I have never come across a student who has disagreed with my opinion on how wonderful Kathryn Walton is both as a person and a professor. It is a pleasure to be in her classes because her enthusiasm is contagious and it is impossible to not be interested in a course when she is the instructor.””

“It would be an understatement to say that Dr. Walton is a great professor; she is truly the best.”

“Honestly, I didn't know how interested I would be in the actual course when I first took it because in the past, I never enjoyed any of my courses where we had to read Old and Middle English. Having Kathryn as a professor really changed my perspective; she is so passionate about teaching this course and the way she presented the information made it that much more interesting!”

“As a huge fan of this course, the content, and the instructor, I am very glad to have been able to take the class. As a huge nerd of mythology, magic, etc. I am extremely grateful that the instructor never made me feel bad about wanting to participate or share my excitement with the class.”