The dazzling and problematic figure of Arthur embodies the catastrophes and desires that propel medieval narratives, theories of power, ethnic divisions, and the emergence of the nation state. Arthurian literature asks us to think about how and why we read it now. Is it a guilty pleasure, serious critical work, or both? What do we learn from its mingled utopianism, nostalgia for the past, xenophobia, spectacle, sexuality, religion, violence, and political philosophy? The course will focus on the most influential medieval versions, but will include films like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and 2021’s The Green Knight.