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The Mythic History of Wales

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Wales has a mythic history full of tales of high adventure, magic and the otherworld, a history and literature which runs parallel to the deeds of the medieval Welsh princes and the growth of industries such as coal-mining, sheep-farming and the lives of ordinary Welsh men and women.

Alongside Arthur, Merlin and Owain Glyndwr, this course will explore the mythic history of figures from Wales’ past, including Owain Lawgoch, Llewelyn the Last, Prince Madog, Dic Penderyn, Boudicca, Gwenllian and Jemima Nicholas; alongside saints, bards and the mysterious druids.

We will investigate ghostly experiences associated with castles, churches, rural cottages and modern houses, and examine hills, forests, megaliths, caves and mines, said to be haunted by ghosts, witches and fairies.

In considering this mythic history we will question its relationship to changing patterns of the social and political world of Wales and different perspectives this offers on Wales and the identity of Welsh people.

Learning and teaching

The module will be taught through nine sessions incorporating lectures, seminars and workshops.

These sessions will consist of a lecture followed by class discussion on specific topics relating to the module.

The discussion will enable students to think critically and to contribute to the debates and topics presented during the lectures.

The discussion-led sessions and the lectures will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.

Syllabus:

  • Worlds beyond Arthur in the work of Geoffrey of Monmouth
  • Caerleon and the Romans in Welsh tradition
  • Druidic Wales and the revival of Welsh Druidry
  • Pirates, Smugglers, Rebels and Outlaws
  • Megaliths and Marvels: Images of Ancient Wales
  • Shakespearean Wales
  • Medicine and Magic: Creating the physicians of the Myddfai
  • Heroic Wales: Medieval tradition in the courts of the Welsh Princes
  • Symbols of the Welsh Nation: Dragons, Leeks and Daffodils

Coursework and assessment

You will be expected to complete two pieces of assessed work:

  • a short critical review
  • a 1000-word essay.

Advice and support will be provided for both assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

  • Tony Curtis (ed.), Wales: The Imagined Nation. Studies in Cultural and National Identity (Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press, 1986).
  • Sioned Davies (trans), The Mabinogion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  • Michael Hunter, Preserving the Past: The Rise of Heritage in Modern Britain (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1996).
  • G.H. Jenkins, A Concise History of Wales (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.

Accessibility

Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.

Location

21-23 Senghennydd Road
Cathays
Cardiff
CF24 4AG