Arthurian Scholar to Lecture on "Perceval"

Nov. 3, 2008

by Jaime Bates, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Dr. Rupert Pickens, one of the world's leading Arthurian scholars and a professor of French at the University of Kentucky will present a lecture titled "Perceval in a Dark Mirror" at 4 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 5, in the Alexander Reading Room on the Baylor University campus. This event, which is part of the Honors Residential College Lecture Series, is free and open to the public.

Pickens will focus on the Augustinian and Biblical background of the general prologue to Chrétien de Troyes' "Story of the Grail," also known as "Perceval." "Perceval," an Old French romance composed around 1990, is the first story about the quest for the Grail.

"It is credited for bringing the story of the Grail to the attention of non-Latin audiences and influencing popular culture," said Dr. Sarah Jane Murray, a professor in the Honors College at Baylor.

Each year the Honors Residential College offers several lectures concerning various topics and areas. This lecture was chosen due to the relevance to students' course work. Many students read "Perceval" as part of their Great Text class and Chrétien de Troyes is often chosen as a senior thesis topic.

"Perceval is reminiscent of many of us, and of many college students," Murray said. "He is searching for his purpose in life."

In the book Perceval, the main character learns that he can not find the purpose for his life in power, desires or popularity. He learns that he must turn his life over to a higher purpose to God.

"This book gives us a lot to think about even today, and especially at this time of the semester when our lives are often particularly busy," Murray said.

Past lecturers in the Honors Residential College Lecture Series include Ray Corrin, from the World Health Organization; Ted Baehr, editor of Movieguide and Sam Weller, official biographer of Ray Bradburry. Speakers are chosen because they approach their specialties with two important questions in mind: how should we live our lives and how can the books we read change the way we look at and live in the world.

For more information on this lecture series visit or call Murray at 710-7854.

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