This page has been updated as of September 19, 2017.
Davis, Alex. “Coming Home Again: Johannes Hofer, Edmund Spenser, and Premodern Nostalgia.” Parergon, vol. 33, no. 2, 2016, pp. 17-38. Project Muse.
The word “nostalgia” was coined by the Swiss medical student Johannes Hofer in his 1688 Dissertatio medica de nostalgia, oder Heimwehe. Hofer’s treatise and Edmund Spenser’s 1595 poem Colin Clouts Come Home Againe exemplify a premodern nostalgia. Hofer moves between moments of familiarity and alienation, while Spenser’s poem offers a richly imaginative response to the Elizabethan attempt to “plant” new homes in Ireland. In each case, premodern nostalgia situates the longing for home within patterns of doubling and repetition that unsettle ideas of origin and belonging even as they propagate them. [AD]
Dolven, Jeff. “Besides Good and Evil.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 1-22. Project Muse.
Spenser’s The Faerie Queene presumes a stable distinction between good and evil characters, and the structure of the narrative depends upon the clarity of those categories. When good characters behave badly, there is no trouble. The poem’s characteristic work is to reconcile action and identity. When bad characters behave kindly, particularly when they treat, each other well, they pose a greater interpretive challenge. In such episodes we glimpse the possibility of a care that is morally meaningless, of a value in life itself, neither good nor evil. Care may be the most grave and dangerous temptation in Spenser’s poem of temptations. [JD]
Grogan, Jane. “Style, Objects, and Heroic Values in Early Modern Epic.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, vol. 57, no. 1, pp. 23-44. Project Muse.
This essay offers a revaluation of the heroic and imperial values of post-Virgilian early modern epic by attending to objects and the material in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590 and 1596) and King James VI and I’s Lepanto (1591). It identifies a recurring attention to, and irruption of, the quotidian within early modern epic style, plot, and narratology, and formal innovation at many of epic’s most characteristic moments. In some cases, female voices and experience prove crucial, enabling critique of imperial epic from within, as well as opening vistas of alternatives to heroic values and a certain suspicion of the contemporary relevance of epic. [JG]
Lee, J. Seth. “Spenser’s Mind of Exile and Colonial Apologetics.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, vol. 57, No. 1, Winter 2017, pp. 45-65. Project Muse.
This essay examines A View of the Present State of Ireland (1596) and Colin Clouts Come Home Againe (1596) as projects born in the creative matrix of Spenser’s state of exile between England and Ireland. I show that a complex rhetoric of national identity was at play in the margins of England’s geopolitical borders—a rhetoric that critiques the center of power. Spenser codifies such rhetoric in his polemical and imaginative literature, struggling (but ultimately failing) to defend English colonial expansion. [JSL]
Miller, David Lee. “Temperance, Interpretation, and ‘the bodie of this death’: Pauline Allegory in The Faerie Queene, Book II.” English Literary Renaissance, vol. 3., no. 3, Autumn 2016, pp. 376-400. U of Chicago P.
This essay reinterprets the “dark conceit” of Mortdant, Amavia, and Ruddymane near the beginning of Spenser’s Legend of Temperance. The argument examines the counterpoint between Paul’s lament for “the body of this death” in Romans and the death scene of Dido in the Aeneid. The essay reads key episodes of Book II as a sustained allegory of misrecognition, according to which Guyon persists in trying to do combat with forces in his own flesh as if they were opponents to be confronted by force of arms. The recognition implicitly demanded by this allegory of misrecognition is shadowed in Arthur’s interpretation of Maleger as an Antaeus‐figure, and then triumphantly repudiated in Guyon’s violent destruction of the Bower. [DLM]
Nicholson, Catherine. “Spelling and the Forging of Spenser’s Readers.” Modern Language Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 2, pp. 173-204. Duke UP Journals.
Unlike the works of contemporaries like William Shakespeare and John Donne, Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene (1590 and 1596) is almost invariably reproduced by modern editors with its peculiar sixteenth-century spellings intact, on the grounds that orthographic modernization would violate the poem’s deliberately archaic style and obscure its densely encoded verbal wit. Drawing on the resources of traditional bibliography, intellectual history, and digital database analysis, this essay proposes that the “old spelling” Faerie Queene is as much an artifact of the mid-eighteenth century as it is of the late sixteenth—and that its relation to Spenser’s intentions is less clear than the role it has played in securing norms of scholarly rigor, historical accuracy, and textual precision. Despite what most modern editions imply, attending to “Spenser’s spelling” tells us less about the poet and his poem than it does about the history of our own disciplinary formation. [CN]<
Teramura, Misha. “Spenser’s Chrysogone and Euripides’ Medea.” Notes & Queries, 10 May 2017. Oxford UP.
This note suggests that the name of Chrysogone in The Faerie Queene may have been inspired by Spenser’s reading of Euripides. At a climactic moment in the Medea, the Chorus appeals to Helios, the grandfather of the eponymous witch, sprung from his “golden birth.” In sixteenth-century editions of Euripides, the phrase in Greek would have closely resembled the name Chrysogone and the fact that Spenser’s character conceives her daughters by the light of Titan is suggestively similar to the sun god Helios’ human progeny. The note concludes with a brief consideration of Spenser’s Greek education.
Walz, Marie Emilie. “Reading Allegorical Figures from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene in Angela Carter’s Three Cat Tales.” Marvels & Tales, vol. 30, no. 2, 2016, pp. 268-283. Project Muse.
I show how Angela Carter’s “The Courtship of Mr. Lyon,” “The Tiger’s Bride,” and “Pussin-Boots” rework in a kaleidoscopic fashion the episode of “Una and the Lyon” from Book I of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene. Because each of Carter’s cat tales offers an alternative to Una and to the outcome of her encounter with the Lyon, they debunk this archetypal figure from Spenser’s allegory, highlight the complexity of the representation of gendered roles in The Faerie Queene, and thus challenge the common idea that Spenserian allegory imprisons women in fixed ideals only. [MEW]