Gawain: Ancient and Modern

Barry Wood

In the introduction to his translation of Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, Simon Armitage suggests that the poem is “oddly redolent of a contemporary predicament, namely our complex and delicate relationship with the natural world”. The poem was written–author unknown–in the late fourteenth century but unlike the Canterbury Tales or Piers Plowman it had scarcely any impact on subsequent poetry or even poetic history until the manuscript was printed in 1839. After that, interest developed among nineteenth century scholars and the occasional poet; but it was not until the past hundred years that it began to attract the attention of such diverse writers as JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis, Iris Murdoch, Ted Hughes and Simon Armitage.

The course will take Armitage’s version as the base text but will consider selected passages from the original and other modernisations as well as critical and cultural interpretations of the poem. We will explore the abiding fascination with the poem in relation to ideas of Englishness and cultural identity, the conflict between nature and civilisation and current environmental concerns.

Day: Thursdays                         Time: 10.30am-12.30pm
8 weeks, 1 October to 26 November 2020
(Half term break 29 October)
Please note: this course was originally advertised as a 6 week course to run in the Summer Term 2020, which was postponed due to Covid-19.

Cross Street Chapel,
Cross Street, Manchester, M2 1NL

Price Concessions Minimum No. Maximum No.
tbc n/a 8 18

Please send your MANCENT booking form with accompanying payment to the address below. If you prefer to pay through BACS, please contact the lecturer for further particulars.
Contact details:
Barry Wood, 12 St. Brannock’s Road,
Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 0UP

Adult Education in Manchester and Cheshire