The Political Imagination of Malory's "Morte Darthur"


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


English Literature


King Arthur is often seen as representing an ideal monarch in conventional English romances and chronicles of the medieval period. This dissertation fundamentally challenges the view of Arthur as a great king in Malory's "Morte Darthur" (c. 1470) and examines alternative means by which the Arthurian polity is upheld. Each chapter focuses on key terms—kingship, counsel, rule, worship, nobility, treason—which had deep resonances in the medieval conception of government and political life. To understand Malory's use of key terms, this project considers contemporary texts with an array of political and social affiliations. By drawing connections between disparate texts, it demonstrates that the "Morte Darthur" is shaped by the political imagination in which Malory lived and worked.