King Arthur from the Medieval to the Modern Periods

Submitting Institution

Bangor University

Unit of Assessment

English Language and Literature

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Language, Communication and Culture: Literary Studies
History and Archaeology: Historical Studies

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Summary of the impact

Bangor University's publications on medieval Arthurian literature c. 1350-1550, in particular on French and English medieval romances, have impacted on the local, national and international cultural life and heritage, economic prosperity of local tourist attractions, the enhancement of the theatrical audience experience (the Royal Shakespeare Company) and creative practice (King Arthur's Labyrinth). Dr Radulescu's work was vital to international TV and radio programmes on the Arthurian legend, and in 2011-13 to the development and enhancement of reading materials for the educated general public and developments in creative writing.

Underpinning research

Context and early research

In the last 50 years Bangor has established its reputation as a global centre of excellence in Arthurian studies. Prof. P. J. C. Field (at Bangor 1964-2004) is internationally known for his work on Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur, and his revised edition of the Works of Sir Thomas Malory (Oxford: Clarendon, 1990) has long been recognised and used as the standard edition of Malory's Morte Darthur. Since her appointment at Bangor in January 2005 (Lecturer 2005-, Senior Lecturer 2008-, Reader since 2013) Dr Raluca Radulescu's international standing in Arthurian studies has derived mostly from her work on Sir Thomas Malory, in particular her monograph on the social context in which Malory's Arthuriad was read (3.1), a collection of essays she edited, to which leading Malory scholars contributed (3.2) and other essays and chapters on Malory (3.3, 3.4 and 3.5). Radulescu's research reputation builds on and develops further Prof Field's establishment of Arthurian studies at Bangor.

Wider research

Dr Radulescu's expertise, like Professor Field's before her, extends beyond Malory studies to Arthurian literature in the medieval period. In particular it links with the cultural context in which it was written and read and represents further landmarks in the study of both Malory and other late medieval Arthurian romances in Middle English. Radulescu's research extends into manuscripts containing the tradition of the Middle English 'Brut' chronicles, published in her edited collection `Readers and Writers of the `Brut' Chronicles' (Trivium' 26, 2006) and into links between genealogy and propaganda as broader concerns around the reading of Arthurian literature (Genealogical Literature in Late Medieval Britain and France,'Brepols, 2008). All of this work has fed into Dr Radulescu's profile as an international expert in the cultural and socio-political context in which Arthurian literature was written and circulated, and led to her being invited on a number of public activities (outlined in section 4). Radulescu's three chapter-length studies of Malory's version of the Grail Quest, the first to return attention to the topic in many years (3.3, 3.4, 3.5) and recently published monograph (3.6) have established her expertise in the sword-in-the-stone motif, related both to King Arthur and the pre-eminent Grail knight, Galahad, leading to public impact (outlined under 4).

Dr Radulescu's scholarship has led to her election, in July 2011, as officer of the international committee of the International Arthurian Society (whose membership stands at over 2,000 personal and institutional members), the most prestigious specialist group in this field internationally, and Editor of the new Journal of the International Arthurian Society (JIAS) and the Annual Bibliography of the International Arthurian Society (BIAS). The first issue of JIAS was published in November 2013. Dr Radulescu's election for this position, in particular being charged to spear-head the establishment of JIAS as a stand-alone publication since 2011, is the result of her recognition in the field of Arthurian studies, following from her longstanding position on the committee of the British Branch of the same society, and continuing Bangor's international reputation in this area through her predecessor, Prof. Field. Former President of the International Arthurian Society, 30Field's work continues to command the attention of the international community. Field's biography of Sir Thomas Malory (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1998), established the identity of the Morte`s author as a member of the gentry imprisoned during the Wars of the Roses. His 1990 edition of Malory's work has been adopted by the international scholarly community since it was published and in 2013 his new edition of Malory's Le Morte Darthur (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, November 2013) is set to replace this and will offer the final established text of Malory's Morte.

References to the research

3.1 Radulescu, Raluca L. The Gentry Context for Malory's `Morte Darthur' (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2003). Submitted to RAE 2008. A copy of this output can be made available on request


3.2 Radulescu, Raluca L. "Oute of measure": Violence and Knighthood in Malory's Morte Darthur', in Re-viewing Le Morte Darthur: Texts and Contexts, Characters and Themes, eds K. S. Whetter and R. L. Radulescu (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2005), pp. 119-31. Submitted to RAE 2008. A copy of this output can be made available on request


3.3 Radulescu, Raluca L. `"Now I take uppon me the adventures to seke of holy thynges': Lancelot and the Crisis of Arthurian Knighthood', in Arthurian Studies in Honour of P.J.C. Field, ed. Bonnie Wheeler, Arthurian Studies 57 (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2004), pp. 285-95. A copy of this output can be made available on request

3.4 Radulescu, Raluca L. `Malory and the Grail', chapter 22 in A Companion to Arthurian Literature, ed. H. Fulton (Maldon, MA and Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 326-39. A copy of this output can be made available on request


3.5 Radulescu, Raluca L. `Malory's Lancelot and the Key to Salvation', Arthurian Literature 25 (2008), 93-118. A copy of this output can be made available on request

3.6 Radulescu, Raluca L. Romance and Its Contexts in Fifteenth-century England: Politics, Piety, and Penitence (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2013). Submitted to REF 2014 (REF Identifier 2919)

Details of the impact

Dr Radulescu's work on Arthurian legends and her analyses of Malory's text have influenced public understanding and education on medieval literature and its relevance to the modern literary experience. Groups affected by her research include the international audience of the National Geographic TV Channel, local communities in Wales and the wider public in the UK. Significant impact has been achieved through substantial contributions of her expertise and research to, for example, the following key activities:

1. Impact on public engagement and understanding of legends & English literature through national media

Known for their expertise in Arthurian studies, Radulescu (and Field) at Bangor have been contacted by, and worked with, numerous programmes as advisors and contributors over the years. Dr Radulescu has been consulted on a number of radio programmes in relation to the Arthurian legend. For example, Radulescu has often been consulted on topics such as Tennyson, medieval literature, and pilgrimage for BBC radio programmes (eg. `The Idylls of the King', aired July 12th 2009 and rebroadcasted July 7th 2013). In 2011 she was contacted by the National Geographic TV Channel with an invitation to contribute to the new planned series `The Ancient X- files' [5.3]. This internationally acclaimed series (the first series was aired successfully in the UK and internationally in 2009/10) consists in documentaries based on uncovering evidence about artefacts and events in the past which remain unresolved. The contributors to the series are academics known for their expertise in the field directly relevant to the episode. The documentary that Dr Radulescu was invited to contribute to was `Sword in the Stone'; it explored the origins and development of the legendary weapon associated by tradition with King Arthur. Dr Radulescu was both one of the main contributors to the research content of the programme, and the presenter of the storyline, thus directly participating in the dissemination of information to the wider public. The documentary, aired on the National Geographic TV channel in July 2012 [5.4], also led to articles in the Welsh press and an interview on BBC Radio Wales, on the Roy Noble show (12 July 2012) [5.5]. Through this program, Radulescu's expertise directly reached an audience of millions in the UK and abroad. The episode continues to be viewed and shared on YouTube, further evidencing the ongoing significance of Radulescu's contribution to public education on Arthurian legends.

2. Impact on the preservation and presentation of cultural heritage

In 2010 the Royal Shakespeare Company produced the first-ever successful staging of Malory's Morte Darthur. Written by Mike Poulton, the celebrated author of the sell-out RSC touring adaptation of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, this new production was the result of Gregory Doran's commission of the work based on Malory's text. The RSC Malory show was sold out for the whole summer season within weeks, with the audience experience being enhanced through a week-long series of public events organised by the RSC culminating at the end of that week (27 June 2010) with an event open to the public titled `Authoring Arthur' [5.6]. This event was conceived as a panel discussion starting from the Arthurian legend, and more specifically Malory's version of it, that was written and re-written in the medieval period and beyond. The only three members of the panel discussion for this event were Mike Poulton, the script writer, Dr Raluca Radulescu, the academic expert on Malory and the context in which he wrote his story, and Gillian Bradshaw, author of popular novels loosely based on Arthurian legends. The event was sold out — 81 members of the general public were involved in the discussion, which included topics such as Malory's life and contemporaries, but also issues related to editions, both scholarly and popular, of his work, through the centuries. According to the RSC, Radulescu's "knowledge and insight were fundamental in achieving the purpose of the event, which was for audiences to consider and appreciate the text and its dramatisation in new ways, and to understand the enormous, unique significance Arthurian literature has in British culture. Dr Radulescu's authority on the subject and the reputation Bangor University has as a centre for Arthurian studies, ensured the quality of the event" [5.1]. The intensity of these discussions left a deep understanding of the context in which the Arthurian legend was written with the public and a lasting impact of Radulescu's expertise on the knowledge of this audience.

3. Impact on the quality of tourist experience, economic prosperity and creative practice

In 2011 Dr Radulescu's research led to a collaborative project with the local tourist attraction `King Arthur's Labyrinth', based at Corris, Powis, and her role as consultant on the development of materials (critical as well as creative, in the form of short stories) to be used with audiences ranging from school children to adults. The impact of this collaboration is important: King Arthur's Labyrinth receives 40,000 visitors annually; the attraction includes an audio-visual journey underground, a `bardic journey' overground, an exhibition, and a bookshop, in which publications relevant to the Arthurian legend (from popular retellings of the legends to popular studies of the origins of King Arthur) are sold. All of these aspects of the exhibition have been significantly enhanced with the materials developed based on Radulescu's advice including a timeline of developments in the Arthurian legend and market research on children's and young adults' literature which could be sold in the bookshop. In addition Dr Radulescu's work inspired the writing of a series of short stories on the Arthurian legend for a young adult audience before 31 July 2013; these will be printed and sold through the bookshop at this tourist attraction [5.2].

Following from these activities, Radulescu was invited, in January 2013, to give an in-depth and intimate guided literary tour of North Wales on the topic of medieval Arthurian literature. The event took place on 14 September 2013. The deep impression the tour made on the select audience is clear from interest and requests for further reading and enthusiastic comments afterwards.

4. Impact on higher education and the scholarly community

Demonstrating the importance of her work for the content of higher education throughout the UK, Dr Radulescu's monograph (3.1) has been adopted on reading lists at undergraduate and postgraduate level at Universities throughout the UK, (e.g. Universities of Cambridge, Birmingham, Manchester, Durham, Liverpool) [5.7], thereby extending the reach of the impact of her work significantly to a national higher education audience.

Sources to corroborate the impact

  1. A formal statement from the Royal Shakespeare Company confirms all claims of impact from the Arthurian Author event
  2. A formal statement from the Director at King Arthur's Labyrinth confirms all impacts of Radulescu's work on this business and the experience of visitors
  3. A copy of the contract between Radulescu and WAG TV, the production company of the Ancient X-Files (, is available on request
  4. Website of the Ancient X-Files, showing the airdate of the Sword in the Stone: A DVD copy of the episode "The Sword in the Stone" is available on request
  5. BBC Wales website for the interview on Roy Noble show (July 12th 2012) A CD copy of the episode with Radulescu's contribution is available on request
  6. Website of the Royal Shakespeare company showing the programme of the event week surrounding de staging of Morte d'Arthur, including the debate Radulescu was invited to:
  7. Websites of university courses (e.g. Birmingham, Cambridge, Manchester, Durham, Liverpool)