Gender and Genre in Welsh Arthurian Literature

  • Krista Ryan Lee Kapphahn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This project is a study of gender and genre in medieval Welsh Arthurian texts, focusing on variations between the so-called 'heroic' and 'courtly' genres, both of which underwent considerable adaptation within a Welsh milieu. It establishes models for the examination of gender in medieval Welsh texts: the competing masculine ideologies of heroism and chivalry, the clergy, and the bards; the feminine models which divide primarily on biological lines and include maidens, mothers and witches as well as the enduring motif of the sovereignty goddess.

I discuss what we may term a 'native' version of Arthur – that is, texts not displaying the influence of either Geoffrey of Monmouth, the verse romances of Chrétien de Troyes, or the many other English and continental Arthurian adaptations – and explore how gender is used within a heroic and nostalgic genre to reflect an idealised Welsh past. Finally I focus on the three so-called 'Welsh romances', Welsh translation of courtly French poems which likely originated at least partly from native tales. Here the inherent difficulty in reconciling the ideals of the native 'heroic' tradition and the continental 'chivalric' one, very much in fashion in the high middle ages, becomes most apparent. Through examining both explicit and subtextual ideologies within the texts, I show that the Welsh redactors were creating a consciously hybrid, Welsh product using facets of important literary genres.
Date of Award06 May 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorIan Hughes (Supervisor) & Simon Rodway (Supervisor)

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