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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2004

E 379S • Robin Hood and Medieval Outlaw Tradition

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33230 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
PAR 308

Course Description

Robin Hood’s legend has been shaped in the popular imagination in the West by generations of contemporary media—comic strips, cartoons, Hollywood feature films, documentaries, mass market novels, science fiction, and children’s literature—so that we can tell, at a glance, what various generations of the 20th and 21st century have found appealing and useful to reinvent in the legend.

This course will examine what late medieval England—the context in which the legend first emerged in literature—found appealing and useful in the figure of Robin Hood, his Greenwood outlaw community, and his place in medieval outlaw tradition. Beginning with Hereward the Wake, and continuing through outlaws such as Gamelyn, figures-in-exile such as Havelok the Dane, or loathly hags on the margins of society, we will consider the attractions that some forms of deviation from normative culture have over others. We’ll ask ourselves why certain medieval communities on the margin were condemned as dangerous—as heretical or sexually deviant—while other marginal communities possessed a certain glamour, and were imaginatively invoked in symbolic ways to summon up alternative visions of land, governance, polity, and community in late medieval England.

Accordingly, we’ll consider the development of law in England, the rise of yeomanry and newly emergent social classes and their symbolic figures.

Grading Policy

Two in-class presentations, and the keeping of a journal detailing ongoing critical responses to the texts we discuss. Students will also construct and submit at mid-semester a detailed draft-in-outline (6-8 pages minimum, double-spaced, typed) of a final term paper from the developing argument of their critical thoughts as recorded in the journal. A final paper of 12-15 pages, double-spaced, typed, will be submitted at the end of the semester.

Writing 60%
Presentations, attendance, and active participation 40%


Rymes of Robin Hood
Packet of readings and supplementary texts


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