Alpers, Paul. “Apostrophe and the Rhetoric of Renaissance Lyric.” Representations 122.1 (2013): 1-22. Web.
Romantic models dominate our conception of lyric poetry. This essay questions the pertinence of these models to the Renaissance lyric by reading that poetry in the light of Jonathan Culler’s classic account of the romantic lyric in his Pursuit of Signs (1981). Culler famously argues that the definitive trope of lyric is apostrophe, in which first-person speakers address pointedly fictive personifications, such as a sick rose or the west wind, in order to emphasize subjective voicing over objective perception. As Culler helps us see, apostrophes are surprisingly important in Renaissance as well as romantic lyric. But the apostrophes of Renaissance lyric characteristically portray first-person speakers as writing in real time and space to “empirical listeners.” What makes Renaissance lyric distinctive is its persistently social mode of address. Through readings of apostrophic poetry by Waller, Donne, King, Sidney, Spenser, and Shakespeare, the essay calls for criticism of the lyric that pays closer attention to the differences among historically diverse lyric cultures.
Falck, Claire. “‘Heavenly Lineaments’ and the Invisible Church in Foxe and Spenser.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 53.1 (2013): 1-28. Web.
This article examines how John Foxe and Edmund Spenser utilize the trope of invisibility to imagine an English Protestant church that, having defined the “true Church” by its lack of worldly visibility, was forced to create a mode of self-representative imagery without sacrificing its validating status as an invisible, spiritual community. Through the woodcut illustrations of Actes and Monuments, Foxe crystallizes the challenge of locating the invisible church within visible history, and in the figure of Una, The Faerie Queene perfects the Protestant project of embodying the invisible while exploring the anxieties and ambiguities inherent in that embodiment.
Hadfield, Andrew. “The Will of William Wiseman, Edmund Spenser’s Son-in-Law.” Notes and Queries 60.1 (2013): 37-40. Web.
Abstract by Jessica Junqueira
Hadfield informs readers about the will of William Wiseman, Edmund Spenser’s son-in-law, which exists in the National Archives of Ireland in Dublin; Wiseman was married to Katherine Spenser. This document is part of the Irish Record Commission, which copied documents in the early 1800s to preserve knowledge about these records. Because of the 1922 fire in the Public Records office in Dublin, many of the original documents were lost. Here, Hadfield emphasizes that making the will available for readers is important, for it has not yet been reprinted in its entirety. Hadfield concludes that Katherine Spenser died by 1635 since the will indicates that William remarried Alice Smith before his death. The complete will follows Hadfield’s introduction to this document.
Loftis, Sonya Freeman. “Reconstructing the Bower of Bliss: Homoerotic Myth-Making in The Faerie Queene.” Renaissance Papers (2012): 1-12. Web.
The article discusses author Edmund Spenser’s association of heterosexual intercourse with sexual maturity and his treatment of homoerotic desire as an adolescent stage of development. It cites his “Bower of Bliss” as a space of feminine sexual autonomy and an acknowledgment of rampant female sexuality. It notes that his goals in the middle books of the epic poem “The Faerie Queene” are to discourage women’s non-teleological eroticism and encourage them to move to a reproductive sexual marriage.
Powrie, Sarah. “Spenser’s Mutabilitie and the Indeterminate Universe.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 53.1 (2013): 73-89. Web.
In the Two Cantos of Mutabilitie, Spenser allegorically explores the unpredictable and revolutionary implications of the new science through Mutabilitie’s insurrection, which transforms the heavens from a recognized hierarchy into an undifferentiated space of uncertainty and debate. Mutabilitie’s challenge to Jove’s superiority resembles the science of Tycho Brahe and Giordano Bruno, both of whom also contested the hierarchical structure of the traditional world system. Mutabilitie signals that the determinate meaning presupposed in the Aristotelian cosmos and the transcendent aspirations of allegory cannot be sustained in a post-Copernican universe.
Putnam, Michael C. J. “Spenser and Frost ‘The Silken Tent.’” Notes and Queries 60.2 (2013): 295. Web.
Abstract by Jessica Junqueira
Putnam notices the similarities between Spenser’s description of Britomart in The Faerie Queene in 4.i.13 and Robert Frost’s sonnet “The Silken Tent.” Putnam observes the brevity of Frost’s poem, the word “silken,” and the seasonal and temporal details in both poems. While we cannot be certain that Frost desired to point readers to Spenser, these similarities encourage readers to consider the likenesses between the two examples and evince Frost’s brilliant use of this significant moment in Spenser. Since Frost wrote the poem for Kathleen Morrison, Putnam concludes that, in Frost’s sonnet, she “becomes the new Elizabeth” (295).
Stoll, Abraham. “Spenser’s Allegorical Conscience.” Modern Philology 111.2 (2013): 181-204. Web. University of Chicago P. Nov. 2013.
In Book 1, conscience is central to Redcrosse’s guilt in the Cave of Despaire and salvation in the House of Holinesse. Then in Book 5 it significantly shapes the justice enacted by Artegall and Britomart. These two moments show how the Protestant conscience slips into an increasingly psychological mode, and how this inward disorder threatens to become an explosive political force. As conscience grows more influential, it simultaneously grows more inchoate, putting it at cross-purposes with the allegory of The Faerie Queene. Disarray in the poem’s representation gathers around conscience and ultimately settles, in parodic fashion, in the figure of Talus, who veers away from his robotic essence to take on a Hamlet-like conscientiousness. With this most incongruous embodiment of conscience, the poem undermines any hope for an allegory of Conscience, as cracks in Spenser’s allegory coincide with the unsettling of conscience into a powerfully unreliable construct.
Zajac, Paul Joseph. “Reading through the Fog: Perception, the Passions, and Poetry in Spenser’s Bower of Bliss.” English Literary Renaissance 43.2 (2013): 211-38. Web. 17 June 2013.
Although critics have largely neglected Spenser’s depiction of the fog offshore Acrasia’s island, stanzas 34 through 37 of Book II, canto twelve of The Faerie Queene are crucial to an understanding of the Bower’s process of temptation. By contextualizing this fog with literary, theological, and medical texts, we can recognize how, as a meteorological phenomenon and an ecology of the passions, the fog’s influence on the faculties of perception predisposes men toward sin. Furthermore, Spenser figures these psychosomatic and ethical consequences in terms of failures of differentiation between art and (tripartite) life. The concluding actions of Guyon and the Palmer expose the Bower’s state of extreme intermixture before reestablishing boundaries of difference and individuation. In conjunction with its moral significance, this redrawing of margins has an important poetic dimension. The fog and the Bower illustrate a model for the relationship between poetry and the passions that troublingly evokes the terms of Spenser’s allegory. Only through the Bower’s destruction can Spenser assert the difference of the Acrasian aesthetics of befogment from his own techniques, described in the Letter to Ralegh as presenting moral truths “clowdily enwrapped in Allegoricall deuises” (l. 23). By rendering so radically the confounding of categories in the Bower, Spenser upholds his own allegorical poem as a more stable, virtuous alternative in an attempt to distinguish himself from a form of art that recognizes no distinctions.