Academy of Lifelong Learning




Jim Campbell

Tuesdays, October 24 – December 5 (six weeks)

* No classes the week of Thanksgiving.

4:15 – 5:30 pm

Moderated Discussion 

*This course is limited to 12 participants.


In this course we will read and discuss manageable selections from the classic medieval literature of love and war. We begin with one session each on (1) the Song of Roland (11th century) with its account of the heroic deeds of Charlemagne’s principal vassal in the war against the Saracens in Spain; (2) the love poems of the troubadours (12th-13th centuries) expressing a revolutionary feminist sensibility unconfined by marriage conventions; and (3) Dante’s Vita Nuova (late 13th century) the “new life” that began for him when, at an early age, he first encountered Beatrice, “the glorious lady of my mind.” The final three sessions are devoted to the enduring stories of King Arthur and the knights of his Round Table, as compiled and retold by Sir Thomas Malory in Le Morte D’arthur (late 15th century) – a work that, as one Malory scholar has asserted, for “five hundred years has stood at the centre of English literature.” The reading materials will be provided by the instructor; no book purchases are required.


JIM CAMPBELL is a retired Washington lawyer who has found time for a lifelong engagement with the humanities. Before attending law school, he held a Carnegie Teaching Fellowship in Philosophy at Yale, and while practicing law, he participated in Pamela Gardner’s Meadow Lane Literature Seminar in Chevy Chase MD, and studied German literature under Professor Werres of GWU. He contributed to Werres/Campbell/Beicken – Doctor Faustus: Archetypal Subtext at the Millenium (WVU Press: 1999) and delivered a paper on “the whole truth” of Wuthering Heights at a session of the 2000 MLA Annual Convention. He resides with his wife Mary near Centreville, where, empowered by the resources of the internet, he continues his happy engagement with the canonical texts of the West, particularly, in the past few years, texts from the medieval period.