Merlin: Changelings, Doppelgangers and Mysterious Births

06/02/2018, 17:30 - 18:30


Join us for a captivating talk on Merlin by Dr. Juliette Wood.

The curious circumstances of Merlin’s birth and his role in Arthur’s conception were important themes in Arthurian literature. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s source for the figure of Merlin for example, was the mysterious ‘child without a father’ from the earlier History of the Britons (c. 868) which tells the story of the Vortigern, reputed King of the Briton’s attempts to solve the mystery of his falling tower. Eventually Geoffrey’s ‘wonder child’ causes Uther Pendragon to assume another shape in order to conceive the future king Arthur. Such themes, however, did not exist in a vacuum. Stories about incubus parentage, the existence of doppelgangers and fairy changelings can be found in the writings of Walter Map and other medieval chroniclers, while instances of supernatural parents such as the Irish deities Lugh and Manannan, and the unknown identity of Arianrhad’s children in the Mabinogi are plentiful in early medieval literature.

Dr Juliette Wood is a professional folklorist and Celtic scholar who teaches Arthurian literature, Celtic mythology, Gothic literature and medievalism at Cardiff University. Educated in the United States, after gaining degrees in medieval philosophy and Arthurian literature she studied folklore at the University of Pennsylvania from which she holds both an M.A and a PhD. Her doctoral thesis examined the cosmology of medieval travelogues and journeys to the other world. She continued her studies in folklore and Celtic literature at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth and at Linacre College, Oxford where she received an M.Litt degree for research into the traditions of the Welsh poet, Taliesin. She has also written books on The Holy Grail, Medieval legends and Celtic folklore. Her major interest at the present time is the relation between medieval tradition and popular culture.

Venue: Special Collections and Archives, Arts and Social Studies Library, Cardiff University, Corbett Road, CF10 3EU



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