Title of Abstract

The Political Evolution of the Arthurian Tradition

Submitting Student(s)

Richard WallaceFollow

Faculty Mentor

Three WU Mentors: Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; Jennifer Disney, Ph.D.; Josephine Koster, Ph.D.; lipscombm@winthrop.edu; disneyj@winthrop.edu; kosterj@winthrop.edu

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Political Science

Faculty Mentor

Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; Jennifer Disney, Ph.D.; Josephine Koster, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to explore the evolution of political ideas within the Arthurian tradition, from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, in the 12th century, to T.H. White’s The Once and Future King in the twentieth. Given the emphasis on Arthur’s rule and the politics of his kingdom in comparison to other legendary hero figures, and given that there is no true singular story from which all other stories about King Arthur are derived, the Arthurian tradition possesses a unique plasticity, making it uniquely reflective of the political ideas of a given work’s author. As such, this study draws on sample works from five distinct eras of Arthurian literature, and examine the contents of these sample works for possible connections with distinct political theories. Even if the Arthurian author in question precedes the codification of the philosophical concepts used to interpret a work by several centuries, I will still connect ideas if they resonate with the story in question. I am not concerned with declaring that Geoffrey of Monmouth was inspired by the writings of Thomas Hobbes; only with whether the theoretical lens employed suggested by a thinker helps us better understand a particular rendering of the Arthurian legend and whether the application of these theories to the Arthurian legend helps us sharpen their conceptual vision. By doing so, I am able to conclude that the Arthurian tradition reflects a general growth in the complexity of political ideas in Great Britain throughout the second millennium A.D.

Additional Fields About Your Abstract

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Honors Thesis Committee

Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; Jennifer Disney, Ph.D.; Josephine Koster, Ph.D.

Honors Thesis Committee

Michael Lipscomb, Ph.D.; Jennifer Disney, Ph.D.; Josephine Koster, Ph.D.

Course Assignment

HONR 451H - Lipscomb PLSC 490H - Disney and Lipscomb ENGL 494H - Koster

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The Political Evolution of the Arthurian Tradition

The purpose of this paper is to explore the evolution of political ideas within the Arthurian tradition, from Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, in the 12th century, to T.H. White’s The Once and Future King in the twentieth. Given the emphasis on Arthur’s rule and the politics of his kingdom in comparison to other legendary hero figures, and given that there is no true singular story from which all other stories about King Arthur are derived, the Arthurian tradition possesses a unique plasticity, making it uniquely reflective of the political ideas of a given work’s author. As such, this study draws on sample works from five distinct eras of Arthurian literature, and examine the contents of these sample works for possible connections with distinct political theories. Even if the Arthurian author in question precedes the codification of the philosophical concepts used to interpret a work by several centuries, I will still connect ideas if they resonate with the story in question. I am not concerned with declaring that Geoffrey of Monmouth was inspired by the writings of Thomas Hobbes; only with whether the theoretical lens employed suggested by a thinker helps us better understand a particular rendering of the Arthurian legend and whether the application of these theories to the Arthurian legend helps us sharpen their conceptual vision. By doing so, I am able to conclude that the Arthurian tradition reflects a general growth in the complexity of political ideas in Great Britain throughout the second millennium A.D.