Barret, J. K. “Vacant Time in The Faerie Queene.” ELH. 81.1 (2014): 1-27. Project Muse. Web.
This essay argues that Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene accommodates “vacant” time, a kind of time that is unassigned rather than already determined and designated by obligation and duty. The poem’s metatemporal moments privilege potential—what one might do as opposed to what one ought to do. Whether through the allegorical figure of Delay, who steals possibility and registers period anxiety about lost opportunity, through characters who attempt to recalculate the passage of time, or through characters who anticipate temporal excess, Spenser betrays an embrace of contingency that operates outside of established systems of valuation.
Hubbard, Gillian. “Stoics, Epicureans, and the ‘sound sincerity of the gospel’ in Book 2 of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene.” Studies in Philology 111.2 (2014): 225-254. Project Muse. Web.
Edmund Spenser provides a complex allegorical presentation of the Aristotelian mean in book 2 of The Faerie Queene, and draws on Platonic and Stoic treatments of temperance. But Spenser’s depiction of temperance, this article argues, gives primacy to theological approaches which overlie the classical. Protestant theologian Peter Martyr Vermigli had argued, against Aquinas, that Aristotle’s mean can be applied to the theological virtues, because “this mean is prescribed in the holy scriptures.” Spenser’s depiction of Sir Guyon’s fight with Huddibras and Sansloy echoes Paul’s verbal battle with the Stoics and Epicureans in Acts 17, a battle portrayed by Calvin as fighting for “the sound sincerity of the gospel.” Spenser’s use of Christ’s cleansing of the temple in the Bower of Bliss episode resonates with a sermon by Archbishop Edwin Sandys on this gospel story. Both Sandys and Spenser are concerned with those who destroy the souls of men by denying them access to the teaching of the scriptures.
Lambert, James S. “Spenser’s Epithalamion and the Protestant Expression of Joy.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 54.1 (2014): 81-103. Project Muse. Web.
Spenser’s autobiographical marriage ode Epithalamion attempts to fuse public proclamations of joy culled from the Book of Common Prayer and the Psalter with private expressions of marital joy and sexual union. The poem simultaneously celebrates the joy of public, ordained marriage and the “private joy” of the bedchamber, but does so in specifically sacramental language that restores Protestant marriage to its sacramental status while recognizing the private, individual experience of the marital blessing. Marriage is the pinnacle of Protestant joy, Spenser’s poem seems to claim, which can only be appropriately expressed through public sacramental ordinance alongside sacred, inward experience.
Phillips, Joshua. “Labors Lost: The Work of Devotion in Tudor Literature.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 44.1 (2014): 45-68. Highwire P. Web.
The dissolution of the monasteries in the 1530s and early 1540s had significant effects on Tudor England, transforming traditional understandings of work and religious devotion. This article examines three elements of social life, associated with monasticism, that were drastically altered by the dissolution: prayer, otium, and withdrawal. As Tudor society sought to reshape or relocate these elements, writers including Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare explored and appropriated them, crafting within their literary texts a place for the monastic impulse. Writers of the period transformed the inefficacy, idleness, and withdrawal that Reformers associated with Catholic religious life into the terms through which they defined their own relative autonomy. Concluding with an examination of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Lost, the essay argues that in Renaissance England the ascetic contributes to the formation of the aesthetic.
Phillips, Joshua. “Monasticism and Idleness in Spenser’s Late Poetry.” SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900. 54.1 (2014): 59-79. Project Muse. Web.
Spenser’s late poetry—especially Colin Clouts Come Home Againe and book 6 of The Faerie Queene—represents the associated concepts of monasticism and idleness in surprisingly positive ways. This article argues that these positive representations criticize a dominant Tudor discourse of industry; help to redefine the meaning of spiritual and intellectual labor, including that of poetry itself; and emphasize the importance of empathy as a literary and human value.
Prawdzik, Brendan. “‘Look on Me’: Theater, Gender, and Poetic Identity Formation in Milton’s Maske.” Studies in Philology 110.4 (2013): 812-850. Project Muse. Web.
Scholarly approaches to Milton’s interest in drama have missed how theater represents for Milton the ethical challenge of negotiating poetic identity with a reading and viewing public. This article locates Milton’s Lady within complementary discursive contexts that efface female agency through either virulent anti-feminism associated with theater or dualistic idealizations that elevate the soul while denigrating the agential body. The Maske‘s staging of an emergent woman imperiled by the visual and discursive field is in part a test case for a public poetry. By way of the “Maske of Cupid” in Faerie Queene 3, Milton constructs Sabrina’s paradoxical function as “uncontrouled worth” enabling the paralyzed Lady by offering a spectacle of an inviolably chaste body that can enter social circulation and work to reform it while evading its distorting power. Nonetheless, Sabrina’s ghostly ephemerality and the evident constraints on the Lady’s agency suggest why public drama for Milton henceforth would be indefinitely deferred but never staged.
Martin, Catherine Gimelli. “Milton’s and Donne’s Stargazing Lovers, Sex, and the New Astronomy.” SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 54.1 (2014): 143-171. Project Muse. Web.
This article compares Milton’s and John Donne’s surprisingly convergent ideas on love and sex by examining how their respective lovers gaze at the stars and the divine plan(s) behind them. Both poets significantly re-sexualize the Platonic tradition spiritualized by Ficino and Anglicized by Sidney and Spenser, while conserving much of its essence. The human soul and human soulmates still descend from the heavens, light, and the love and beauty emanating from God’s chain of being, but with fully erotic needs and desires. Both poets also accept the new astronomy, yet Donne prefers love scenes that reinvent Ptolemy’s “perfect” concentric cosmos while Milton’s lovers inhabit a boundless universe.
Segall, Kreg. “The Precarious Poet in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe.” Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 53.1 (2013): 31-51. Project Muse. Web.
This essay argues that the structure of Spenser’s Colin Clouts Come Home Againe is centripetal, radiating out from its central moment of devotion to Rosalind and bounded by two myths of language. The first myth is Bregog, who demonstrates the danger of too little self-declaration; the second myth is Stesichorus, who demonstrates the danger of too much speech. The poet-figure Colin Clout considers and reconsiders how best to speak and his relationship to the poetic word; along with the poet, the reader considers and reconsiders as well.
Shortslef, Emily. “Second Life: The Ruines of Time and the Virtual Collectivities of Early Modern Complaint.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 13.3 (2013): 84-104. Project Muse. Web.
This essay reads Edmund Spenser’s The Ruines of Time (1591)—an elegy for the Earls of Leicester and Warwick, Sir Philip Sidney, and Sir Francis Walsingham—as a “complaint against the times,” a form of writing known for its critique of contemporary social and political conditions. By representing the poem’s narrator as a solitary figure of mourning situated in a landscape of ruin, the poem articulates its central problem: that the contemporary moment, which is hostile toward the political commitments of the dead (particularly their interventionist Protestantism), renders difficult the poem’s main objective—to provide its subjects with a “second life.” In response to its historical situation, The Ruines of Time imagines a trans-temporal collectivity as the form in which that political project might live again within historical time—a “virtual” second life and collectivity for which the poem, as a complaint, acts as both placeholder and invocation.
Slater, Michael. “Spenser’s Poetics of ‘Transfixion’ in the Allegory of Chastity.” SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 54.1 (2014): 41-58. Project Muse. Web.
Critics have frequently recognized the unsettling relation between allegory and violence in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, perhaps especially in the Allegory of Chastity. Working within a critical trend that links this violence to rape, this paper nonetheless suggests we might shift our attention to a somewhat different trope—one that Spenser consistently employs at key moments of allegorical production. For Spenser, it is not just rape but “transfixion” more specifically that exposes the violence implicit in allegory. In the transfixions of Amoret and Malbecco the text reveals the gruesome site (and sight) of symbolic production in all its horror.
Ziegler, John R. “Irish Mantles, English Nationalism: Apparel and National Identity in Early Modern English and Irish Texts.” Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 13.1 (2013): 73-95. Project Muse. Web.
The Irish mantle—a type of long, heavy woolen cloak—came under regular attack by writers and lawmakers in Tudor and Stuart England. This article examines how a range of early modern English texts used the Irish mantle to establish and regulate the boundaries of national identity. The Irish were problematically similar to the English; most significantly, they lacked the clear physical differences that distinguished other colonial subjects. For writers such as Barnabe Rich, Edmund Spenser, John Davies, and Ben Jonson, the mantle takes on the function of signifying an essential “Irishness” and differentiating it from “Englishness.” Relying on an easily changed garment to signal natural difference, however, rendered less stable the very distinctions in national identity that English writers attempted to create and maintain. Irish texts from the same period, including several of the Annála [Annals] and poems by Tadhg Dall Ó hUiginn and Dháibhidh Uí Bhruadair, offer competing images of Irish dress and often demonstrate a greater comfort with hybrid identities and less concern with the idea of an Irish nation. English discourse on the mantle could help to create and police an English identity only by simultaneously creating an Irish nation against which to define itself.