Deadline extended: Ecocritical essays wanted on Arthurian legend

deadline for submissions: 
March 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Tim Wenzell, Virginia Union University
contact email: 

Ecocritical essays wanted on Arthurian legend    

Essays are invited from ecocritics, ecofeminists, ecopsychologists, Medievalists, and scholars for an anthology to be tentatively titled Eco D'Arthur: Green Camelot. The direction of current scholarhsip in ecocriticism focuses on science, ecology, and nature writing. More attention needs to be given to older literature, and in British literature, the medieval period. Though some attention has been given to Chaucer and to the period in general, there is relatively little ecocritical scholarship on Arthurian myth. This book-length work will analyze Arthurian myth through ecocritical/ecopsychological/ecofeminist perspectives. Articles should be documented in Chicago style.  The following are suggested topics for the anthology, though these are certainly not exhaustive:

 

  1. “Camelot: The Way to Eden.”  Camelot as fusion of man and nature; man and the land are one; medieval utopian ideals in their relationship to the natural world; development of the plough and its profound change to the man-nature relationship; the end of Camelot when man begins to exploit nature.
  2. “The Vulgate Cycle, the Fisher King, the Grail Quest: Reclaiming the Wasteland” will explore the shared consciousness between man (Fisher King) and nature (land), and the ecological “solution” expressed by the Grail, the early Christian artifact that would allow for restoration of the wasteland through the psychic restoration of the mind of the king; this will be supplemented with a discussion of ecopsychology; loss of health and peace of mind when disconnected from nature.
  3. “Lady of the Lake, the Post-Vulgate, and the Celtic Otherworld” will explore Tristan’s Grail quest in the Suite du Merlin, the Celtic Otherworld in mythology, and an ecofeminist analysis of the Lady of the Lake.
  4. “Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini: Merlin’s Wilderness of Mind” will explore the Medieval notion of going astray, as Merlin does in this text, as his union with the natural world expresses itself through “madness.”
  5. “Shared Consciousness and Shape-Shifting in The Lais of Marie de France” will focus on human-animal relationships in The Lais and the correlation between human-animal transformation and translation in the tales "Yonec" (which features hawk-men) and "Bisclavret" (which features a werewolf), illustrating that human-animal transformations, or shape shifting between two forms, indicate a “mind-meld” between man and nature sharing one consciousness.
  6. “Malory’s Morte d’Arthur and Significance of Seasonal Change” will explore paganism and the importance of seasons; grafting Christian holidays onto pagan rituals as a means of bringing a monotheistic god to seasonal observation.
  7. “Eco-Romanticism, the Lady of the Lake, and Arthurian Myth in Wordsworth’s “The Egyptian Maid” will explore the significance of Arthurian myth to the Romantic movement, including, in the analysis of this Wordsworth poem, the significance of the shipwreck, the interaction between Merlin and the Lady of the Lake, and the pagan resurrection of the drowned girl by a Christian knight.
  8. “Art, Poetry, Victorianism, and Ecology: Tennyson’s Revival of Arthurian Myth and the Romantic Landscape in ‘The Lady of Shallot’ and ‘Idylls of the King’” will focus on the imagery in each poem, their popularity to a Victorian audience, and the subsequent Pre-Raphaelite aspect of nature John William Waterhouse’s painting “The Lady of Shallot” and Gustave Dore’s illustrations for “Idylls of the King.”
  9. “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Green Man, and Buried Paganism” will primarily explore Gawain’s journey to the Green Chapel, a journey that takes him out of Christianity and back into a pagan past; his disconnection from nature with its exotic creatures versus the familiar creatures of Bertilak’s hunt. The Green Man as alter-ego of Nature Consciousness, the conscious (civilized world) and its dependency on the unconscious (natural world).
  10. “Mother Earth, Mother Goddess: Ecofeminism and The Mists of Avalon”  will explore an ecofeminist analysis of Morgaine le Fay, priestess of the Isle of Avalon, where the ancient religion of the Mother Goddess is born; the mother goddess in literature; the matriarchal society and the natural landscape. Avalon as Ireland: Britain’s buried Celtic and matriarchal past.
  11. “Silver Armor, Green Reflections: The Visualized Landscape of Arthurian England in John Boorman’s Excalibur”  As Lynn White Jr. notes in “Historical Roots of Our Ecological Crisis, “a paradigm shift occurred when the teachings of the Christian church began to supplant the pagan gods. White states, “the victory of Christianity over paganism was the greatest psychic revolution in the history of our culture” (9).  Boorman’s Excalibur explores this paradigm shift, where the psychic remnants of a vanished past persist in collective memory and imagination; as Boorman noted in an interview, "The film has to do with mythical truth, not historical truth. The coming of Christian man and the disappearance of the old religions which are represented by Merlin. The forces of superstition and magic are swallowed up into the unconscious."  The parallel here between White and Boorman, from an ecocritical perspective, extends the ecoctrical analysis of Arthurian myth into the context of film, allowing cinematography to illustrate the strain between Christian and pagan thought, between man and nature.