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Durham University

Department of English Studies

Event Archive

This is an archive of past events within the Department of English Studies. Please see our current events for forthcoming activities.

Some of our public events are recorded and are available as podcasts via our Research English At Durham blog.

Knights at the Movies: Reformulating Fellowship in Film Adaptations of Chivalric Communities

7th October 2015, 17:15 to 18:00, Alington House, Colin Davey

The eighth and final Late Summer Lecture of the 2015 series will show how the medieval notion of fellowship is depicted in modern movies such as Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Lord of the Rings.

In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the protagonist is famously lauded for his ‘felaȝschyp forbe al þyng’, an assertion which the rest of the poem considerably complicates. This lecture briefly reviews the striking amount of trouble the word has given to modern translators, ever since Tolkien’s rendering of it as ‘friendliness’ (surely an interesting choice from the author of The Fellowship of the Ring). The word is indeed something of a false friend, strange in its familiarity. The concept, constricted by its archaism, is strikingly in need of translation and yet at once evades it. The same is true of its adaptation in a variety of medieval films.

Taking an interdisciplinary approach to explore the fractures and continuities in filmic translations of the medieval notion of fellowship, the lecture considers the disintegration of the Round Table in Bresson’s Lancelot du Lac (1974) and its parodic counterpart in Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975); versions of medieval buddy/road-movies in Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Helgeland’s A Knight’s Tale (both 2001); and recent highly popular TV offerings such as the inbetweener chivalric ‘bromance’ of the BBC’s Merlin and the – ostensibly – celibate male enclave of the Night’s Watch in the sexual maelstrom of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Adopting and cross-examining Foucault’s ‘friendship as a way of life’ the lecture explores the similarities and differences between medieval and medievalist notions of homosocial community, and asks how far apart – or close – the two are as ways of life that might ‘yield a culture and ethics’.

About Late Summer Lectures

Now in its sixth year, the Late Summer Lecture Series enables doctoral and postdoctoral student from the Department of English in Durham, Newcastle, and York to broadcast their ground-breaking research to a wider audience. The full programme for the latest instalment is now available for viewing on the Late Summer Lecture Series website, and reflects the diverse and exploratory nature of research currently undertaken by scholars in the North East.

Podcasts from previous lecture series can be downloaded via Research English At Durham.

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Research in English At Durham (READ) blog showcasing the the literary research emerging from the Department of English Studies


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