Approaches to Teaching Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- Editors: Miriam Youngerman Miller, Jane Chance
- Pages: xii & 256 pp.
- Published: 1986
- ISBN: 9780873524926 (Paperback)
- ISBN: 9780873524919 (Cloth)
“As a plan of study for teaching, Approaches to [Teaching Sir Gawain and the Green Knight] will not easily be surpassed.”
“This book eliminates any excuse medievalists or others might have for failing to make the poem shine in all its craft and ambiguity. For sophomore surveys to upper-division and graduate courses, this volume is simply the place to begin rethinking our presentation of the ‘lel letteres loken.’”
One of the most widely taught medieval English poems, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight still provides many challenges for teachers. What is the best way to explain to students its alliteration and unusual stanzaic form? Why does the poet begin with the fall of Troy? On what Arthurian tradition is the author drawing? Would the lady’s behavior have been conventional in the Middle Ages? Why does Arthur’s court laugh in the end—is the poem a comedy? In this volume, twenty-four teachers offer strategies for successfully presenting the perplexities of Sir Gawain in a variety of courses.
Like other books in the Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, Approaches to Teaching Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is divided into two parts. Part 1, “Materials,” surveys materials useful to classroom instruction, such as translations, anthologies, reference works, and teaching aids. Part 2, “Approaches,” begins with background essays on teaching the poem within the traditions of romance, chivalry, courtly love, religion and law, and medieval aesthetics. The essays that follow discuss ways to include the poem, both in translation and in the original, in courses ranging from freshman composition to graduate seminars. A final section includes ideas that can be adapted to any class—from reading the poem aloud to sponsoring a medieval banquet.