Interpretative Seminar: Gawain the Knight across Medieval Cultures

vyučující Matouš Jaluška (ÚČLK), Martin Šorm (ÚČD)
konání Pondělí 15:50–17:20, H18
SIS AKM500202
Sir Gawain (Gauvain, Walewein, Voliván) is a rare creature among the Knights of the Round Table. He is the eldest son of King Arthur’s sister and as an heir apparent of the throne he is very strongly connected with the space of the court. Together with ambiguous Sir Kay (the Seneschal) Gawain represents a firm structure of the courtly sphere. During the celebrations that make up the living of King’s entourage, he sits beside the Queen Guinevere on the seat second only to the royal throne. The death of Gawain would signal the impending doom of Arthur’s kingdom, and yet he frequently leaves the safe sphere of whatever castle King Arthur resides in and goes on a quest in search for adventure. On top of that, he is often successful in his exploits, in contrast with rude Kay.

Ryan Harper assures us, that there are “more medieval romances devoted to Gawain’s exploits than to those of any other of Arthur’s knights, including Lancelot, Tristan, and Galahad” (see the entry on Gawain in Wherever there is Arthur’s court, there is a mention of him. In a certain sense, Gawain IS the court. He enacts the default knightly behavior when he strives for peace, helps the helpless and oppressed, but also when he struggles and eventually loses in a fight against his own desires. It seems that the ultimate quest for the Holy Grail poses a insurmountable challenge for this secular courtier.

Gawain’s omnipresence and versatility is the reason why we have chosen this knightly character as our guide through European courtly literature. He is almost everywhere, performing the role of the benchmark or backdrop knight. Against this backdrop we would perhaps see more clearly what the courtly texts want to show.

Erasmus Class: Exchange – 09.2 General and Comparative Literature

Undergraduate students are welcome, as the course will equip them with basic tools that can be used in dealing with medieval literature.

Úvod > Aktivity > Výuka > Předměty > Interpretative Seminar: Gawain the Knight across Medieval Cultures