Conferences and Events

The International Spenser Society is a scholarly organization devoted to the reading and study of the works of Edmund Spenser. The Organization’s objectives are to “further Spenser scholarship . . . by bringing Spenser scholars together at an annual meeting, by selecting outstanding scholars for honor, by encouraging research in progress, by promoting the exchange of ideas in the field of Spenser study” and “such other activities as the members of the Society may determine.”

The Society sponsors a session each year at the Modern Language Association Convention, as well as two sessions at the Renaissance Society of America Conference and one at the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference. The Society also supports international conferences on Spenser such as those at Yale in 1996, Cambridge in 2001, Toronto in 2006, Dublin in 2015, and the Globe Research in Action Workshop on Spenser and Shakespeare in London in 2017. We sponsor the Colin Clout Award for lifetime achievement, the Isabel MacCaffrey Award for the best new book or article on Spenser, the Anne Lake Prescott Graduate Student Conference Paper Prize, and the annual Hugh Maclean Memorial Lecture.

If you are organizing an event or conference that substantially contributes to the objectives of the International Spenser Society, please let us know how we can help. If you would like for us to consider your event for a small grant to help defray some expenses, please prepare a proposal that includes (1) a 500-word description of the event, with clear explanation of how your event furthers the objectives of the ISS; (2) amount requested (not to exceed $500) and explanation of how the funds will be spent, rough budget for the entire event, and information about other funding sources; and (3) brief CV(s) (not to exceed two pages each) for the organizer(s) of the event. Please direct your proposal to the current President of the Society, who will share it with the Executive Committee for vetting.

Awards will be granted based on fit with ISS objectives; scholarly reputation of participants; anticipated impact of the event; and diversity of participants in terms of gender, nationality, race, rank, and/or prestige. The ISS's ability to provide support for non-ISS-sponsored events is contingent upon the Society's own financial situation, meaning that in some circumstances the Society may not be able to fund a very worthy and deserving event or conference.

Spenser at MLA

The International Spenser Society annually sponsors a session at the Modern Language Association meeting, and annually applies to co-sponsor a session with another MLA allied organization. Further information may be found at the MLA website,

Spenser at RSA

The International Spenser Society annually sponsors a session at the Renaissance Society of America meeting. Further information may be found at the RSA website,

Hugh Maclean Memorial Lecture

The Society also holds an annual luncheon at which officers are elected, prizes are awarded, and other business is conducted. The principal event of the luncheon is the Hugh Maclean Memorial Lecture, an informal talk by a major scholar of early modern literature. In 2019, the Society voted overwhelmingly for a trial change of venue for three years (2021, 2022, 2023) to the RSA.

Spenser at SCSC

The International Spenser Society sponsors a session and supports the Sidney-Spenser roundtable, now a plenary event, at the Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference. Further information may be found at the SCSC website,

Spenser at Kalamazoo

The International Spenser Society maintains friendly relations with several annual sessions at the Medieval Congress at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Further information may be found at the Congress website,

Spenser at Shakespeare's Globe

12th-13th June 2017

'Spenser, Poetry and Performance', a once-off collaboration with Shakespeare's Globe, London, on 12th and 13th June 2017, brings together theatre-practitioners and scholars to test and explore the continuities and connections between early modern poetic and dramatic writing. By focussing on Spenser and Shakespeare and by examining the performance values of Spenser's poetry in particular, we hope to re-evaluate current notions of influence, intertextuality and genre, and to challenge scholars to revisit the implicit divide between early modern poetry and drama.

On Monday 12th June we will begin with a tour of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, before embarking on a series of expert panel discussions and short performances. The day concludes with an evening Research in Action workshop on 'Performing Elizabethan Poetry: Spenser and Shakespeare'. The programme for Tuesday 13th June involves a series of short papers and roundtable reflection panels, followed by a conference reception sponsored by University College Dublin. We will be recording and making available selected podcasts from the event.

The final programme is now available. There is no registration fee for this event, thanks to ISS sponsorship, but if you would like to attend, please register your interest with Stephanie Elsky ( as soon as possible, as places are limited.


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