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Emilee Ruhland

English 467 26 October 2012 Proposed Title: Queen Guinevere and the Lady Morgana and the Fall of Camelot: Woman as the Serpent in Arthurian Legend

A Proposal for the Study of Women in King Arthur


Arthurian legend has been proved to be just thatlegend. But no matter how many times a historian takes up the mantle to disprove the historical value of the legends, the truth remains that whether or not the legends are based on even a kernel of truth, Arthurian legend has become a Truth that has and will remain an important part of our history. The legends have become a part of our culture; there are hundreds of books, essays, movies and even television shows based on or discussing the legends. Having read The Mists of Avalon, written a fiction piece that required researching Arthurian legend, and watched the BBC television show Merlin, I have become very interested in the roles that women like Queen Guinevere and Lady Morgana play across the many texts that have stemmed from Geoffrey of Monmouths 1136 pseudohistorical Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain). Many later renditions and stories of King Arthur credit Geoffrey of Monmouth as the starting place for their novel, even if they dont follow the exact story. The Mists of Avalon begins with a quote from Le Morte dArthur (another heavily credited novel): Morgan le Fay was not married, but put to school in a nunnery, where she became a great mistress of magic. Then she proceeds to create one of the most original, feminist adaptations of the legends of King Arthur. In this story, Morgaine is a strong heroine, placed at the fault of King Arthurs fall through circumstance alone. This book was the first to pique my interest in how women are portrayed in the legends. Watching the television show Merlin was what recently reminded me of this interest, and gave me the idea of studying the roles of Arthurian legend women. This proposal seeks approval of a close study of women in Arthurian legend to present in paper and presentation format for Capstone December 2012. This project will closely study several adaptations of the legends of King Arthur in order to construct a concept of Queen Guinevere and the Lady Morgana as they are depicted in the stories. One note to the names: many of the leading Arthurian texts refer to Guinevere and Morgana with different names, and in my final paper I will use one name throughout the textwhich I will explain at the beginning of the paperunless quoting directly from a source that spells their name differently. I will also discuss this with my mentor. I will be working with Dr. Muriel Brown to produce a research project approximately 1015 pages long on the subject. The work will address questions of feminism and viewpoint

Ruhland 2 within a medieval legend that has been retold and adapted countlessly since The History of the Kings of Britain, where the first full-length story of King Arthur appears. Specific questions our research will look to address are: What traits of Guinevere and Morgana are present across several texts of Arthurian legend? How do authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley attempt to rectify or explain the idea of woman as serpent, and do they succeed? Can they succeed? How has the study of feminism advanced the study of Arthurian women? How have recent authors pieced together and elaborated on characters like the Lady Morgana to humanize and empathize with the women rather than vilify them?

I have three major goals for completing this project and they are summarized below: First, because I am considering several careers, I would like to use this opportunity to practice skills that will apply to those different careers. In researching and writing this project, I will be demonstrating my ability to gather information across several texts and create an interesting and informational study. This will apply to two of the careers I am interested in, advertising and publishing, as well as many other careers I might decide to pursue. Advertising is all about gathering information and creating an appeal for that information, and publishing will similarly work to create an appealing product that will draw in an audience. Second, I find it important to work on a project that I am interested in. Arthurian legend is something I hope to continue researching and studying in the future. This project will allow me to pursue that goal, and the emphasis on Queen Guinevere and Morgana gives me the chance to apply feminism theory to Arthurian legend. Last, I believe the subject of women in Arthurian legend should be studied in detail, more so than has been studies so far. Drawing from many texts and the research and critique of experts can bring these womens identity and character more depth, and I hope to add something unique and important to the vast wealth of Arthurian knowledge.

In order to accomplish a finished product, I will use a combination that entails mostly library research and the use of feminism theory. I will use two primary sourcesLe Morte dArthur by Sir Thomas Malory and Lord Alfred Tennysons Idylls of the King. Other sources that will be used heavily will be The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley and the television show Merlin. I will also use Charles Bresslers chapter on feminist theory in Literary Theory in order to discuss how Queen Guinevere and Lady Morgana are characterized in the texts I have named above.

Ruhland 3 The use of library research will be the most important to the project, as the completed product will be a research and analytical essay. Thus most of the time spent with this project will be compiling research, analyzing and commenting on it, and then bringing it together in a reasonable and strong argument that answers the questions (stated above) I hope to answer.


Dr. Brown and I will be meeting at 1 p.m. every Friday to discuss the project and my progress. For all work we will discuss on Friday, I will send her what I have by Thursday evening so Dr. Brown will have time to look it over and take notes. I will also provide an agenda in order to a) keep track of what was accomplished and b) keep on progress during the meeting. In order to organize due dates, beginning dates and meetings I created a Gantt chart that will keep track of time for each project step, as well as keep an orderly path to follow. The chart is ordered by the time each item is either due in class or due in order to stay on task for what is due in class. E stands for Emilee, Ref for Reference Librarian, and then the Mentor are the team members, although the reference librarian is only a one-time meeting. The time scaled is in terms of week and is labeled by the date of the Monday/Friday of that week. There are eight weeks on the chart and six weeks left. I plan to have the project completed by the week of Thanksgiving, which is the last week on the chart. Filled-in boxes display the due date of each event. In the case of meetings, for example, week 1 is filled in to show that by then I needed a date and time set. The xxxxx represents both working up to a task (when it needs to be started up until it is due) or, in the case of the meetings, the continuation of the project task until it is finished.

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Reading List

Alfred Lord Tennyson. Idylls of the King. Strand: Penguin Books, 1983. Print. Bradley, Marion Zimmer. The Mists of Avalon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983. Print. Geoffrey of Monmouth. Histories of the Kings of Britain. Trans. Sebastian Evans. London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1928. Print. Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte DArthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table. Trans. Keith Baines. New York: New American Library, 1962. Print. Moorman, Charles. The Book of Kyng Arthur: The Unity of Malorys Morte Darthur. Lexington: U of Kentucky P, 1965. Print. Venters, Amberlee. Morgan Le Fay: From Healer to Treasonous Queen. Calliope Jul. 2012: 21-23. Ebsco MegaFILE. Web.16 Oct. 2012. Williams, Mary. King Arthur in History and Legend. Folklore 1962: 73-88. JSTOR. Web. 10 Oct. 2012.