Culture and the King

The Social Implications of the Arthurian Legend

Edited by Martin B. Shichtman & James P. Carley

Subjects: Cultural Critique
Series: SUNY series in Medieval Studies
Paperback : 9780791418642, 324 pages, July 1994
Hardcover : 9780791418635, 324 pages, July 1994

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Table of contents

Valerie M. Lagorio: A Tribute
Mildred Leake Day

Introduction: The Social Implications of the Arthurian Legend
Martin B. Shichtman and James P. Carley

Part I The Middle Ages: Inventing a Lost Past

Marie de France's Arthurian Lai : Subtle and Political
David Chamberlain

Lévi-Strauss in Camelot: Interrupted Communication in Arthurian Feudal Fictions
Donald Maddox

Arthur in Culhwch and Olwen and in the Romances of Chrétien de Troyes
Armel Diverres

The Knight as Reader of Arthurian Romance
Elspeth Kennedy

The Stanzaic Morte Arthur : The Adaptation of a French Romance for an English Audience
Edward Donald Kennedy

Was Merlin a Ghibelline? Arthurian Propaganda at the Court of Frederick II
Donald L. Hoffman

A Grave Event: Henry V, Glastonbury Abbey, and Joseph of Arimathea's Bones
James P. Carley

The Speaking Knight: Sir Gawain and Other Animals
Felicity Riddy

Politicizing the Ineffable: The Queste del Saint Graal and Malory's "Tale of the Sankgreal"
Martin B. Shichtman

"The Prowess of Hands": The Psychology of Alchemy in Malory's "Tale of Sir Gareth"
Bonnie Wheeler

How Many Roads to Camelot: The Married Knight in Malory
Maureen Fries

Part II Reinventing the Middle Ages

Spenser for Hire: Arthurian History as Cultural Capital in The Faerie Queene
Laurie A. Finke

Arthur Before and After the Revolution: The Blome-Stansby Edition of Malory (1634) and Brittains Glory (1684)
David R. Carlson

Reluctant Redactor: William Dyce Reads the Legend
Debra N. Mancoff

The Snake in the Woodpile: Tennyson's Vivien as Victorian Prostitute
Rebecca Umland

Feminism, Homosexuality, and Homophobia in The Mists of Avalon
James Noble

Camelot 3000 and the Future of Arthur
Charles T. Wood



This book focuses on how and why various cultures have appropriated the story of King Arthur. It is about re-vision, how cultures alter inherited texts and are, in turn, changed by them, and it deals with the ways in which various cultures have empowered the Arthurian legend so that power might be derived from it. The authors suggest that the vitality of the Arthurian legend resides in its ability to be transformed and to transform, in its potential for appropriation and use.

Culture and the King deals with issues of literature, history, art, politics, economics, gender study, and popular culture. It crosses the boundaries traditionally erected around these disciplines and addresses emerging critical methodologies concerned with the "poetics of culture."

Martin B. Shichtman is Professor in the Department of English at Eastern Michigan University. James P. Carley is Associate Professor in the Department of English at York University, Ontario, Canada.


"This book's main strength is its diversity. There is an astonishing amount of territory covered here. The methodological diversity is especially notable, with many of the essays leaning toward contemporary criticism." — Julian Wasserman, Loyola University