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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight



Prof. Marion Turner – Oxford University


English Literature

  • About this Course
  • About this Lecturer

About this Course

In this course, Dr Marion Turner (University of Oxford) explores the 14th-century poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The course begins with an introduction to the Arthurian tradition, focusing in particular on the representations of Arthur and his court in the works of Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chrétian de Troyes. After that, in a section titled 'History and Place', we think about the links between the poem and the courts of Edward III and Richard II (especially the foundation of the Order of Garter in 1348), the poem's focus on the North West of England, and the relationship between the various locales presented in the poem itself. In the third module, we turn to the form and structure of the poem, thinking about the use of alliteration and rhyme and the arrangement into 101 stanzas and 4 'fits' (sections), before moving on in the fourth module to explore the significant images and symbols in the poem. In the final module, we think about how the reader is supposed to judge Gawain for his actions, focusing in particular on the three judgements that the poem itself provides: (i) that of Gawain himself; (ii) that of Bertilak, the Green Knight; and (iii) that of Arthur's court.

About the Lecturer

Marion read English at Oxford and then spent a year abroad before reading for an MA in Medieval Studies at York. She returned to Oxford to study for a doctorate, focusing on Chaucer, which she gained in 2002. She was a Fellow by Examination (Prize Fellow) at Magdalen College, Oxford, and also taught at King's College London before returning to Oxford in 2007 to take up a fellowship at Jesus. In 2006, she was awarded a research fellowship by the Leverhulme Trust and in 2011 she was awarded research funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Her research interests lie in late medieval secular literature and history, especially Chaucer, the Gawain-poet, and political texts. Her first book - Chaucerian Conflict - came out with Oxford University Press in 2007 and she recently edited A Handbook of Middle English Studies for Wiley-Blackwell, as part of their Critical Theory Handbook series. She has published many articles on late medieval literature and history. She is also interested in literature and medicine, and in the relationship between space and textual production. Her current major project is a substantial biography of Chaucer for Princeton University Press.