From the category archives:

British Literature

Vulgate Lancelot

by Dr Davis on March 26, 2016

Speaker: Kalyn Prince, Abilene Christian U
“Lancelot: A Man After David’s Own Heart”

written at time of Crusades
Lancelot = David (not Christ)
During this time, Christian story dominated

Vulgate’s cycle’s rhetorical situation is search for the holy grail.
Romance may have been intended to be a cautionary tale to note that the French court should look to David’s and Lancelot’s kingdoms and see disasters to avoid.

Authors unknown

Context of cycle most important.
Cycle = cautionary tale of government control

Authors may have used the Vulgate Cycle to argue about what the government was doing.
Lancelot = noblest knight
David = “man after God’s own heart” (I Sam. 13:14)
Both were better than the man selected by God to rule: Arthur, Saul.
Lancelot and David are constantly out in the world making a difference.

Lancelot does not succeed at Holy Grail, but his son Galahad does.
David cannot build temple, but Solomon can.

Similarities between David and Lancelot AND Philip II.
Seemed to receive from God, have holy mission.
Dominions were expanded and lived in Golden Times.

from CCTE 2016 Literature 5 Biblical Themes


King Arthur Holy Days: French Vulgate

by Dr Davis on March 23, 2016

Speaker: Mark Patterson, Abilene Christian University
“Holidays and Holy Days: The Significance of the Pagan/Christian Calendar in the French Vulgate Account of King Arthur and His Round Table”

legend of King Arthur, 1400 years
continues to inspire

Christian v pagan
Interpret tales during 6th Century when Arthur existed.
Prevalence of skepticism means no one has done it

French Vulgate offers info we need.

Circle in stone, Kay’s knighting, Arthur and his father holding court.
Story of Merlin in old French Vulgate cycle.
Merlin mentions Christian holidays.
Inclusion of holidays indicates importance of date to Welsh/French/pagans.

Christians will not understand the Holy Days from pagan POV.

Symbolism of round table
Round table = middle of the year
Beltane, etc.
Shape of table = Celtic significance

52 seats
one kept empty
52 seats = number of weeks in the year
Arthur’s Round Table arrangement
Arthur has 13. Himself and 12 knights.
This is how many lunar months there are.
Round table = calendar.

“on that Whitsunday the king was of a mind to wear his crown.”
Parallels his son’s coronation on Whitsuntide.

Arthur often interpreted as Christ-figure.

Merlin story doesn’t say when born.
Arthur known to be born in late December.

Pre-date Christianity Samhain, Yule, Winter Solstice

Arthur is Christ-figure, so part of sun-son wordplay.

Uther = Holy Ghost

from CCTE 2016 Literature 5 Biblical Themes


English Over Time

by Dr Davis on February 8, 2016

English 1000 years Psalm 23

I read the Middle English with a Scots accent.


Age of Fairy Tales

by Dr Davis on January 20, 2016

I know that fairy tales are older than the fifteenth century, as some were written down before then.

However, an article from the BBC says they are thousands of years old: “Fairy Tale Origins.”

Dr Tehrani explained: “We used a toolkit that we borrowed from evolutionary biology called phylogenetic comparative methods. This enables you to reconstruct the past in the absence of physical evidence.
“We’ve excavated information about our story-telling history, using information that’s been preserved through the mechanism of inheritance, so in that sense they embody their own history.
“By comparing the folk tales that we find in different cultures and knowing something about the historical relationships among those cultures, we can make inferences about the stories that would have been told by their common ancestors,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

fairy tale red in bed with wolf


Shakespeare in a Venn Diagram

by Dr Davis on January 12, 2016

Venn Diagram Shakespeare

I don’t know where it originally came from. I got it off Facebook from Shakespeare Geek.


A Video for Class

by Dr Davis on September 23, 2015

What English Actually Sounded Like 500 Years Ago.

When you are teaching early modern drama…


Anglo-Saxon Remedy Kills Superbug

by Dr Davis on March 30, 2015

What happens when an Anglo-Saxonist and a microbiologist get together? Apparently quite a lot of useful things. New Scientist

The medieval medics might have been on to something. A modern-day recreation of this remedy seems to alleviate infections caused by the bacteria that are usually responsible for styes. The work might ultimately help create drugs for hard-to-treat skin infections.


Medieval Misconceptions

by Dr Davis on February 26, 2015

io9 has 10 Worst Misconceptions about Medieval Life You’d Get from Fantasy Books

What were inns?
“Once your neighbor opened up a fresh batch of ale, you might go to their house, pay a few pennies, and sit and drink with your fellow villagers.”

Equality in the Middle Ages?

In England, a widow could take up the trade of her dead husband — and Mortimer specifically cites tailor, armorer, and merchant as trades open to widows. Some female merchants were actually quite successful, managing international trading ventures with impressive capital.

Women engaged in criminal activity as well, including banditry. Many criminal gangs in Medieval England consisted of families, including wives with their husbands and sisters with their brothers.

Go on and read more. You know you want to.


Original Pronunciation

by Dr Davis on September 17, 2014

britain_william_shakespeare martinShakespeare’s Globe did a Shakespearean play with original pronunciation. This is a 10-minute video about it–with examples:

“It’s an interesting accent to tune your ear into.”

Very useful for linguistics and British literature.

“three kind of evidence that you look for…
observations made by people who are writing on the language at the time… Ben Jonson the dramatist tells us, ‘We actually pronounce the r…’
spellings people used at the time … at one point in Romeo and Juliet the word film is spelt p-h-i-l-o-m-e…That’s a very important indication.
rhymes and puns which don’t work in Modern English that do work in OP… ”

2/3s of Shakespeare’s sonnets have rhymes that don’t work in Modern English but do in OP.

“Actors all said that the OP altered their performance…It changed the way they perceived their characters…”

“The OP Romeo and Juliet was 10 minutes faster.”

“It’s an earthier accent.”

“can make the original meaning clearer”

“sound shift… from pronunciation of whore to o’er/ore… perfect pun”

“working our way back to Shakespeare”


Eyewitness to History

by Dr Davis on September 14, 2014

A great site for eyewitness accounts of important (and less important) national and international events is Eyewitness to History.

I would use this for literature courses. I might even use it for rhetoric classes.