Author Archives: ktowens45

From Mallory to Morgan: How Arthurian Legend had shaped with Time

-Katie Owens      

The stories of our past have a way of staying with us throughout time. This can come in the form of retellings of the story in its original form or in the form of adaptations. One story that has persisted in our collective memory throughout time is that of King Arthur, Camelot, and the Knights of the Round Table. From the time Sir Thomas Mallory collected them in Le Morte d’Arthur in the 1400’s, there have been countless retellings in the form of books, poems, television series, and movies. One particular retelling of the Arthurian stories in the BBC drama Merlin which aired from 2008 – 2012. This particular adaptation sees Merlin and Arthur as young men in the time leading up to Arthur being crowned king.

By comparing the television show to Mallory’s texts, I will examine the ways in which the two represent themes of chivalry and class structure. In order to do this, I will first examine the nature of adaptations in general and a brief history of Arthurian adaptations. Then, I examine the ways that both Le Morte d’Arthur and Merlin present these themes by looking in depth at specific characters and tales from each. In addition to exploring the themes of chivalry and class structure, I look at the ways that the time period in which each version was created informed the manner of presentation.

 

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-Katie Owens

Out of all the boring repetitive things that professors have to put into their syllabi as per the university, there is nothing I roll my eyes at more than the section on academic honesty. This is mostly in part to my philosophy that if you’re going to cheat, why the hell are you in college, because no one makes you come here. Then I remember that not everyone is an English major and that writing papers is hard for other people. I then also remember how easy is it is to plagiarize on accident. These are things that were talked about in the interview with Rebecca Moore Howard and Sandra Jamieson that we read.

A lot of the points that were brought up in the study regarding plagiarism are ones that don’t surprise me. The more I thought about my own history writing papers, it was easy to remember times when I simply looked for sources because I had to, by consulting indexes and contents. Rebecca and Sandra studied papers to find out more about the ways in which students use sources, as opposed to strictly finding copy and paste, no citation incidents. Quote mining was another example of something that I think every undergraduate is guilty of at some point or another.

The Citation Project and its findings reminds me of a lot of the readings we have done this years. The actual information is different put the end point turns out to be similar. What we are trying to learn as humanities majors is to take the ideas that are presented to us and combine and use them to meet our own realizations. Whether these realizations are about a particular text or human relationships in general, they are ones that shape our understanding of the world. The Citation Project relates to this is the fact that what they contend that students should be doing, instead of paraphrasing and taking direct quotes, is showing how the research that they have done is in conversation with one another. This conversation is what helps to gain a better understanding of whatever it is that the student is writing about.

Overall, I think that this interview and what they have to say about plagiarism and citations made me think more clearly about what it means to ‘cheat’ both intentionally and not. You really are only cheating yourself in the longer run. *wink nudge*

 

Recent Trends in “Arthuriana”

By Katie Owens

I was able to find a journal that fits my topic perfectly. It is called Arthuriana and is produced at Purdue on behalf of the International Arthurian Society-North American Branch. It describes itself as “a multidisciplinary journal of Arthurian studies from beginnings to the present” (Arthuriana.org). It has been in publication since 1995, and continues to be released quarterly. The journal’s website says that they are the only academic journal in the world that is centered solely on Arthurian legend. This makes what they choose to publish especially important. In the last year, they have published a wide range of articles. Among these articles, however, a few distinct themes are apparent. These themes are gender roles within Arthurian culture and exploration of adaptations throughout time.

Surrounding the stories of the knights and their round table, there has been a lot of scholarship about the women of the legends. In the recent issues of Athuriana, there are numerous articles about gender and women’s roles. These include: “‘His Princess’: An Athurian Family Drama,” “The Girl’s King Arthur: Retelling Tales,” “Helping Girls to Be Heroic?: Some Recent Arthurian Fiction for Young Adults,” “Grrrls and Arthurian Stories,” and “Women’s Power in Late Medieval Romance.” This recent trend is not one that is only seen in this field. More and more attention is being paid to gender roles across literature, art, and politics. What makes it interesting in this field is that no one at the time when these stories were originally written would have been thinking about any of the ideas these articles represent. This creates an interesting idea of what gender issues are present in the old text that are able to be flushed out in newer texts.

Another trend that I noticed was studies of the changing nature of Arthurian legend over time.  Articles that fit into this trend include: “Malory, Hardyng, and the Winchester Manuscript: Some Preliminary Conclusions,” “Translation or Adaptation? Parcevals saga as a Result of Cultural Transformation,” “Ectors saga: An Arthurian Pastiche in Classical Guise,” “Tristram: From Civilizing Hero to Power Politician.” In addition to these articles, there were a series of reviews in the Spring 2012 issue of books that center around film adaptations of the Middle Ages. These two trends show that scholars are concentrating on relating different Arthurian tales to one another and see how that transform over time. (Which is good news for me.) This is important because it shows that no matter how much time passes, new discoveries will continue to be made. It also shows that adaptations and related productions continue to be made, 600 years after Mallory’s Le Morte D’Arthur.

By examining these trends, one can notice where the scholarship in the genre has been concentrating its focus recently. Issues of gender roles and examination of adaptations are both trends that can be seen in the most recent issues of Arthuriana. I think that these trends can be particularly helpful when considering literature as a whole. Feminist readings and issues of adaptation are present across the board in current criticism. It is interesting to see that in a genre as old as Arthurian literature, modern trends still apply to what people are finding interesting.

We’ve got bigger problems.

-Katie Owens

Most of the time, I think people start arguments because they have nothing better to do. Or because they love the sound of their own voice and they think that because they hold a certain opinion, it is the opinion that everyone else should have.

You think gay couples shouldn’t be allowed to get married? Cool.

You think Madison looks ridiculous in that sweater? Awesome.

You think only the American and British classics deserve to be taught in literature classes? Delightful.

I don’t care.

Agree to disagree.

The second people start devoting large chunks of their personal time crying, “CRISIS. WE HAVE A CRISIS!” about anything that isn’t a life or death situation, part of me wants to roll my eyes and part of me wants to slap them upside the head.
I am not arguing against change in the humanities. I think I am all for it. But I also think there are more important things to worry about than what we’re reading. In Henry Louis Gates Jr’s “Pluralism and Its Discontents,” he talks about the bigger problems that face our education systems. “Because the truth is,” he says, “that curricular changes in history or literature are irrelevant is a kid doesn’t know how to read or write or add.” These are problems worth spending time worrying about. Go out there are teach people the basics and then they will be informed enough to make decisions for themselves. Gates continues on in saying that “the only way to transcend those divisions… is through education that seeks to comprehend the diversity of human culture.” I feel as though, as an English major, I know more about the world than I ever would have if I had, God forbid, studied math. I have been given the opportunity to learn about the history of the world, as well as contemporary understanding of cultures, people, and events around the world.
Another point that Gates makes that I feel is important to understanding what it is that we should be experiencing in university is when he uses the metaphor of comparing education to traveling. In this section he says that if we must have decided on who we truly are when we reach the outside world, then while in school, we must be everyone possible. I find this to resound quite well with what I believe about an English education. I have traveled to the Congo, Tintern Abbey, and high school classrooms in Maine. I have been teenage boys, a dying cancer patient, and a knight in shining armor. All without ever leaving the LAC.
More or less, I think that people need to calm down. Let us read whatever we want. Mix it up. Give us a bit of everything. Because that’s what life is going to give us.