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Sites of Arthur : mythic quests for cultural identity and value.

Earl, Benjamin. 2007. Sites of Arthur : mythic quests for cultural identity and value. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

From the Gododdin to Gary Hughes, from Sir Thomas Malory to Bernard Cornwell, from Tintagel Castle to the Camelot Theme Park, the Arthurian myth has continued to exert a fascination and pull over the centuries. Different interpretations are appropriated by different cultures, subcultures and individuals as a marker of distinction, yet they find themselves tied to the dominant chivalric myth even when positioning themselves against this form of Arthur. This thesis looks at the cultural-historical conditions that result in certain Arthurian texts being valued more highly than others, and argues that contrary to Barthes's assertion of 'The Death of the Author', Foucault's author function allows for an understanding as to why the Romance chivalric version of the myth as exemplified by Malory has come to be dominant. By showing how Arthurian signifiers are 'floating signifiers' that allow meanings to be contested at any one time according to the taste-cultures concerned, this thesis looks at how the Arthurian myth is appropriated as a means of distinction for cultures, subcultures, and individuals. This contest over meanings sees different sections of society attempting to naturalise and value certain interpretations of the Arthurian myth as 'authentic' in order to legitimate their own taste-culture. Drawing on Bourdieu's notions of Cultural and Symbolic Capital, and Fields of Production, it is possible to look at how the Arthurian myth is used to naturalise the position-taking strategies of both producers and consumers. Analysis consists not only of certain representative 'Sites of Arthur', but also of inter-texts surrounding these works, and audience research in relation to specific case studies. The thesis focuses not only on the response within the cultural fields themselves, but also at how Arthur is appropriated by those outside of the respective fields, and looks at the cultural contexts in which Arthur is sited.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
ISBN: 9781303174728
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 01:15
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/54300

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