Isabel MacCaffrey Award

The Isabel MacCaffrey Award was established at the Spenser Society’s annual meeting in 1984 to recognize the year’s best essay in Spenser studies. The first award was given in 1985. Until 2003, preference in the selection was given to junior scholars. In 2003, the prize was restructured to recognize books and essays in separate (usually alternating) competitions, and to give equal consideration to junior and senior scholars. In 2015, the membership of the Spenser Society determined that normally no winner of the MacCaffrey prize shall be eligible to win either award again within a five-year period.


Russell J. Meyer, “‘Fixt in heauens hight’: Spenser, Astronomy, and the Date of the Cantos of Mutabilitie,” Spenser Studies 4 (1983): 115-29.


Jacqueline T. Miller, “The Status of Fairyland: Spenser’s ‘Vniust Possession,” Spenser Studies 5 (1985): 31-44.


Gordon Teskey, “From Allegory to Dialectic: Imagining Error in Spenser and Milton,” PMLA 101 (1986): 9-23.


Susanne Lindgren Wofford, “Britomart’s Petrarchan Lament: Allegory and Narrative in The Faerie Queene III.iv,” Comparative Literature 39 (1987): 28-57.

Honorable mention: Lauren Silberman, “The Hermaphrodite and the Metamorphosis of Spenserian Allegory,” English Literary Renaissance 17 (1987): 207-23.


Jane Tylus, “Spenser, Virgil, and the Politics of Poetic Labor,” English Literary History 55 (1988): 53-77.


Anne Fogerty, “The Colonization of Language: Narrative Strategies in A View of the Present State of Ireland and The Faerie Queene, Book VI,” in Spenser and Ireland: An Interdisciplinary Perspective, ed. Patricia Coughlan (Cork University Press, 1989), pp. 75-108.


Kenneth Borris, “‘Diuelish Ceremonies’: Allegorical Satire of Protestant Extremism in The Faerie Queene VI.viii.31-51,” Spenser Studies 8 (1990): 175-210.



Linda Gregerson, “Protestant Erotics: Idolatry and Interpretation in Spenser’s Faerie Queene,” ELH 58 (1991): 1-34.

Dorothy Stephens, “Into Other Arms: Amoret’s Evasion,” ELH 58 (1991): 523-44.


Richard Rambuss, “The Secretary’s Study: The Secret Design of The Shepheardes Calendar,” ELH 59 (1992): 313-35.


Mary Villeponteaux, “Semper Eadem: Belphoebe's Denial of Desire,” in Renaissance Discourses of Desire, ed. Claude J. Summers and Ted-Larry Pebworth (University of Missouri Press, 1993), pp. 29-45.


Craig Berry, “Borrowed Armor/Free Grace: The Quest for Authority in The Faerie Queene I and Chaucer’s The Tale of Sir Thopas,” Studies in Philology 91 (1994): 136-66.


Elizabeth Mazzola, “Apocryphal Texts and Epic Amnesia: The Ends of History in The Faerie Queene,” Soundings 78 (Spring 1995): 131-41.


Elizabeth Fowler, “The Failure of Moral Philosophy in the Work of Edmund Spenser,” Representations 51 (Summer 1995): 47-76.


J. Christopher Warner, “Poetry and Praise in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe,” Studies in Philology 94 (1997): 368-81.


Paul Suttie, “Spenser’s Political Pragmatism,” Studies in Philology 95 (1998): 56-76.


Jeff Dolven, “Spenser and the Troubled Theaters,” English Literary Renaissance 29 (1999): 179-200.


Tobias Gregory, “Shadowing Intervention: On the Politics of The Faerie Queene Book 5, Cantos 10-12,” ELH 67 (2000): 365-97.


James Fleming, “A View from the Bridge: Ireland and Violence in Spenser's Amoretti.” Spenser Studies 15 (2001): 135-64.


Not awarded.



Harry Berger, Jr., “Archimago: Between Text and Countertext,” Studies in English Literature 1500-1800 43 (Winter 2003): 19-64.

Jennifer Summit, “Monuments and Ruins: Spenser and the Problem of the English Library,” ELH 70 (2003): 1-34.


A. C. Hamilton, ed., The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser (Longman/Pearson Publishing, 2001).

Honorable mention: Elizabeth Fowler, Literary Character: The Human Figure in Early English Writing (Cornell University Press, 2003).

Honorable mention: Richard McCabe, Spenser’s Monstrous Regiment: Elizabethan Ireland and the Poetics of Difference (Oxford University Press, 2002).


Joseph Campana, “On Not Defending Poetry: Spenser, Suffering, and the Energy of Affect,” PMLA 120 (2005): 33-48.


Not awarded.


Jeff Dolven, Scenes of Instruction in Renaissance Romance (University of Chicago Press, 2007); prize for best book published in 2005, 2006, or 2007.

David Landreth, “At Home with Mammon: Matter, Money, and Memory in Book II of The Faerie Queene,” ELH 73 (Spring 2006): 245-274.


Judith H. Anderson, Reading the Allegorical Intertext: Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton (Fordham University Press, 2008)


Ayesha Ramachandran, “Edmund Spenser, Lucretian Neoplatonist: Cosmology in the Fowre Hymnes," in Spenser Studies, vol. 24.


Jane Grogan, Exemplary Spenser: Visual and Poetic Pedagogy in The Faerie Queene. Ashgate, 2009.


Andrew Zurcher, “The Printing of the Cantos of Mutabilitie in 1609.”  In Jane Grogan, ed., Celebrating Mutabilitie:  Essays on Edmund Spenser’s Mutabilitie Cantos.  Manchester University Press, 2010.

Honorable mention:  Jane Grogan, “After the Mutabilitie Cantos: Yeats and Heaney reading Spenser,” from the same volume. 


Andrew Hadfield, Edmund Spenser: A Life. Oxford University Press, 2012.


Joe Moshenska, “The Forgotten Youth of Allegory: Figures of Old Age in The Faerie Queene.” Modern Philology 110: 3(2013): 389-414.


David Scott Wilson-Okamura, Spenser's International Style (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).


Thomas Ward, ‘Spenser’s Irish Hubbub’, English Literary History 81: 3 (2014): 757-86

Syrithe Pugh, Spenser and Virgil: the Pastoral Poems (Manchester University Press [The Manchester Spenser], 2016)


Catherine Nicholson, “Against the Brydale Day: Envy and the Meanings of Spenserian Marriage,” English Literary History 83.1 (2016): 43-70.

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