Spring 2016: 146B

Medieval Welsh Language and Literature: Middle Welsh Texts and Manuscripts

4 units
TuTh 11-12:30
151 Barrows
Instructor: Annalee Rejhon

L&S Breadth: Arts & Literature

A selection of medieval Welsh prose and poetry will be read with a focus on King Arthur and on Middle Welsh translations of Anglo-Norman French works. These works will be examined in the context of the medieval Welsh manuscripts that preserve them. The course will provide an introduction to the nature and history of the corpus of extant medieval Welsh manuscripts and to methods for editing them as well as an examination of the cultural interface between Welsh and French traditions in medieval Britain.

In this regard selections will be read from Ystoria Bown de Hamtwn [The Tale of Boun de Hamtone] and from Cân Rolant, the Welsh version of the Song of Roland. The Arthurian texts will include selections from Culhwch and Olwen, the earliest Arthurian tale in the vernacular, Brut y Brenhinedd [History of the Kings], the Welsh version of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, the native Arthurian tale, Breudwyt Ronabwy [the Dream of Rhonabwy], the Welsh grail text Peredur, the counterpart of Chrétien de Troyes’ Old French Perceval, and the early Arthurian poems, “Pa gur” [What Man (the Gatekeeper)], and “Preiddeu Annwn” [Spoils of the Otherworld]. The latest critical treatments of these works in their cultural context will be covered in lectures. Texts will be read in Middle Welsh, both in edited and manuscript versions, the latter made available in a Reader from microfilm or online copies. In-class translations will normally form part of each class.

Course requirements include a midterm and final exam plus the preparation of a short transcription and edition of part of a manuscript of one of the texts read in class.

Prerequisites: Celtic St. 146A or permission of the instructor.


Poppe, Erich and Regine Reck, eds. Selections from Ystorya Bown o Hamtwn. The Library of Medieval Welsh Literature. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2009. (ISBN: 978-0-7083-2171-3)

Rejhon, Annalee D., ed. and tr. Cân Rolant: The Medieval Welsh Version of the Song of Roland. University of California Publications in Modern Philology, 113. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1984. (ISBN: 0-520-09997-4)

Bromwich, Rachel and D. Simon Evans, eds. Culhwch and Olwen: An Edition and Study of the Oldest Arthurian Tale. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1992. (ISBN: 0-7083-1127-X)

Roberts, Brynley, ed. Brut y Brenhinedd. Mediaeval and Modern Welsh Series, 5. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1971.

Richards, Melville, ed. Breudwyt Ronabwy. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1948.   (ISBN 0-7083-0270-X)

Goetinck, G., ed. Historia Peredur vab Efrawc. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1976.   (ISBN 0-7083-0440-0)

Evans, J. Gwenogvryn, ed. Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch. 2nd ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1977. (ISBN 0-7083-0523-7)

Evans, D. Simon. A Grammar of Middle Welsh. Mediaeval and Modern Welsh Series, suppl. vol. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976. (ISBN: 00-000-2972-6)

Evans, H. Meurig and W.O. Thomas. Y Geiriadur Mawr: The Complete Welsh-English English-Welsh Dictionary. Llandybïe, Dyfed: Christopher Davies and Gwasg Gomer, 1989.   (ISBN 0-85088-462-4)

Davies, Sioned, tr. The Mabinogion. Oxford World’s Classics. London & New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. (ISBN 978-0-19-921878-3)