Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Medieval Literature into Film

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit seeks to examine and critique thematic and formal considerations behind cinematic adaptations of medieval literary works.

The study-unit focuses on the following issues:

1. A Chaucerian Carnivalesque: The Bakhtinian Pilgrimage of Pasolini’s I Racconti di Canterbury.
2. From Romance to Ritual: Weeks’ Sir Gawain in Weston’s Green Chapel.
3. Boorman’s Romantic Quest: Le Morte D’Arthur as a Tristanised Excalibur.
4. Signifying Nothing: Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac and the Arthurian Paradoxism of Tennyson’s Idylls.
5. Chrétien in Gotham: The Wasteland Myth in Gilliam’s The Fisher King.

Throughout, considerations relating to myth, magic, and ritual; representations of devastation and redemption; and the affinities between the different demands and promises of literature and cinema will be addressed.

Reading List:

Burns, E. Jane, ‘Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be: The Middle Ages in Literature and Film’, in Shadows of the Magic Lamp: Fantasy and Science Fiction in Film, ed. George E. Slusser and Eric S. Rabkin (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985), pp. 86-97

Clegg, Cynthia, ‘The Problem of Realizing Medieval Romance in Film: John Boorman’s Excalibur’, in Shadows of the Magic Lamp: Fantasy and Science Fiction in Film, ed. George E. Slusser and Eric S. Rabkin (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1985), pp. 98-111

Codell, Julie F., ‘Decapitation and Deconstruction: The Body of the Hero in Robert Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac’ in The Arthurian Revival: Essays on Form, Tradition and Transformation, ed. Debra Mancoff (New York: Garland, 1992), pp. 266-282

Forni, Kathleen. ‘A “Cinema of Poetry”: What Pasolini did to Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales’, Literature/Film Quarterly 30.4 (2002): 256-263

Green, Martin, “The Dialectic of Adaptation: The Cantebury Tales of Pier Paolo Pasolini’, Literature/Film Quarterly 4.1 (1976): 46-53

Harty, Kevin J., ed., Cinema Arthuriana: Essays on Arthurian Film (New York: Garland, 1991)

Harty, Kevin J., King Arthur on Film: New Essays on Arthurian Cinema (Jefferson: McFarland, 1999)

Kennedy, Harlan, The World of King Arthur according to John Boorman’, American Film 6 (1981): 30-37

Osberg, Richard H., ‘Pages torn from the Book: Narrative Disintegration in Gilliam’s The Fisher King’, Studies in Medievalism 7 (1995): 194-224

Robinson, Carol L. ‘Celluloid Criticism: Pasolini’s Contribution to the Chaucerian Debate’, Studies in Medievalism 5 (1993): 115-126

Rumble, Patrick, “Contamination and Excess: I Racconti di Cantebury as a “Struttura da Farsi”’, in Pasolini Old and New: Surveys and Studies, ed. Zygmunt G. Baranski (Dublin: Four Courts, 1999), pp. 345-361

Shichtman, Martin B., ‘Hollywood’s New Weston: The Grail Myth in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and John Boorman’s Excalibur’, PostScript 4 (1984): 35-48

Sternberg, Doug, ‘“Tom’s a-cold’: Tranformation and Redemption in King Lear and The Fisher King”. Literature/Film Quarterly 23 (1994): 160-169

Thompson, Kristin, Breaking the Glass Armor: Neoformalist Film Analysis (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 289-316


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Take Home Examination (3 Hours) SEM1 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Saviour Catania
Kenneth Scicluna

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