Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

medieval; ecocriticism; romance; ecofeminism; masculinity; environment


This paper explores medieval environmental attitudes through a historical reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the study of which provides a blueprint for what may be a method of combating climate change denial at its cultural roots, which I will argue in this paper links to an outdated mode of European warrior masculinity. This paper will demonstrate the connections between hegemonic masculinity and environmental degradation at work as a discourse in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight through chivalric behaviors, as well as a burgeoning environmental conscientiousness at play that undermines it. The conflict between Gawain and the Green Knight is a struggle to detoxify certain elements of chivalric warrior masculinity, and through a close reading of the text we can relate this project towards today’s goal of countering the specifically male-resistance toward embracing sustainability, making ‘green’ friendlier to masculine identities.

Lay Summary

This paper discusses environmental attitudes in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a medieval poem about the deadly game played between Sir Gawain and the mysterious Green Knight. This paper argues that the code of behavior the knights followed is connected to the ways certain aspects of masculinity contribute to pollution and environmental damage in today’s world. By examining the ways the poem addresses these issues through the plot, we discover how to promote sustainable thinking to today’s men.