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Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Isabel B. Stanley

Committee Members

Edwin W. Williams, William Styron Harris Jr.


The art of courtly love is difficult to pinpoint because there are many facets that extend into different areas. In the Pre-Raphaelite and Medieval periods, love was more formulated with rules, moral standards, and codes. Courtly love is often seen as the "love" practiced by kings, queens, and other nobility because of the mystique that surrounds legendary stories like Lancelot and Guinevere. Courtly love encompasses spiritual awakening, lust, passion, adultery, and religion; therefore, the art of courtly love intrigues as well as interests its readers.

Many critics have studied the effects of courtly love in literature and have come to the conclusion that courtly love was not only linked to Christianity, but that courtly love was also linked with other religions and philosophies. The link between Christianity and courtly love is the largest debate between critics and scholars within this particular genre.

Women have also played a part in understanding courtly love because of their complex role within the storylines of the literary poems. Women were often seen as the stronger of the sexes; however, they were viewed as objects instead of people. In courtly love, women were often the downfall of men because of their idle ways and abilities to deceive men. Women are important for the understanding of the rules and courtships between men and women during this period.

Tennyson and Morris had the most influential courtly love literature during the Pre-Raphaelite period. Their contributions to the tale of the Arthurian Legend are inherent to the understanding of this genre of courtly love. With Idylls of the King, Tennyson brought a resurgence of interest in the Arthurian Legend. His Idylls are various stories about the trials and tribulations of Arthur's life and others in Camelot. Morris followed the brilliance of Tennyson's Idylls with The Defense of Guinevere, which is a poem solely based on Guinevere's perspective and point of view. These two authors sought to create a myth around the Arthurian Legend with great vigor and their own poetic style.

There has been a plethora of discussion on the topic of courtly love; however, there has not a been a common agreement on its origins. This study shows how courtly love relates to literature during the Pre-Raphaelite period, most especially in the Arthurian Legend.

Document Type

Thesis - restricted


Copyright by the authors.