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Brennan, Michael G. “Philip Sidney’s Book-Buying at Venice and Padua, Giovanni Varisco’s Venetian editions of Jacopo Sannazaro’s Arcadia (1571 and 1578) and Edmund Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender (1579).” Sidney Journal, vol. 36, no. 1, 2018, pp. 19-40. International Sidney Society.

This essay traces Philip Sidney’s involvements with the book trade at Venice and Padua during his residence there from November 1573 until August 1574. It examines his interest in the publications of the renowned Aldine Press and other Venetian imprints mentioned in a letter of 19 December 1573 to Hubert Languet. It is intriguing to note that several of these Venetian publications (but not necessarily the same copies) were included in a catalogue, compiled between 1652 and 1665, of the Sidney family library at Penshurst. This essay specifically examines the 1571 and 1578 Venetian editions of Jacopo Sannazaro’s Arcadia, edited by Francesco Sansovino and published at Venice by Giovanni Varisco. This text played a significant role in providing inspiration for both Sidney’s own Arcadia and for the use of woodcuts in Edmund Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender. The essay proposes that either Sidney himself (if he purchased a copy at Venice), or his companions at Venice Lodowick and Sebastian Bryskett (Bruschetto), or Gabriel Harvey, or another member of the Earl of Leicester’s circle of Italian scholars may have provided Spenser with access to a copy of this Varisco edition. [MB]

Brown, Richard Danson, “And dearest loue”: Virgilian half-lines in Spenser’s Faerie QueeneProceedings of the Virgil Society 29 (2017), pp. 49-74.

This article looks at the half lines in Spenser’s Faerie Queene, and their intertextual relationship with Virgil’s Aeneid. It considers how the Aeneid was translated into English in the sixteenth century, before examining in depth the half lines in The Faerie Queene. I show that there are sound textual reasons for believing that Spenser intended the majority of these half-dozen lines as a deliberate counterpoint to the more uniform appearance of the rest of his poem, and indeed that revisions to the text in later editions show Spenser varying the placement of half lines for their affective impact. 

Cooper, Amy. “Allegory and the Art of Memory in Book 2 of Spenser’s Faerie Queene.” ELH, vol. 84 no. 4, 2017, pp. 791-816. Project Muse.

The problem of ‘imposed allegory,’ as Rosamond Tuve once called it, remains an unresolved challenge for theorists of allegory: the project of aligning literal and metaphorical levels of allegorical meaning places readers in the position of having to know the text’s meaning before having ‘unveiled’ it. This essay argues that the paradox of temporal anteriority is no paradox: early modern poets understood the discovery of allegorical meaning to be a process of rediscovery–i.e. of recollection. By returning to a memory-based understanding of allegorical hermeneutics, this essay recovers a forgotten aesthetic tradition, one organized around premodern theories of the memory-image. [AC]

Cong, Xiaoming. “Spenser’s Welsh Kings.” Notes and Queries, vol. 65, no. 1, 2018, pp. 35–37. Oxford University Press.

Abstract not available.

Evans, Kasey. “Prosopopoeia and Maternity in Edmund Spenser and Thomas Lodge.” ELH, vol. 85, no. 2, 2018, pp. 393-413. Project Muse.

The trope of prosopopoeia has been the object of considerable scholarly interest at least since Paul de Man argued that this act of face-making, while it grants life to the lifeless and voice to the voiceless, strikes the wielder of the trope dead and dumb. In this analysis of two texts published in the 1590s and explicitly entitled with the word ‘prosopopoeia,’ the chiastic structure of the trope is examined in relation to the figure of maternity. In both Edmund Spenser’s Prosopopoia. Or, Mother Hubberds Tale and Thomas Lodge’s Prosopopoeia: containing the teares of the holy, blessed, and sanctified Marie, the Mother of God, prosopopoeia emerges as a masculine arrogation of the privilege of life-giving initially represented as a maternal prerogative. [KE]

Farrell, Craig. “The Poetics of Page-Turning: The Interactive Surfaces of Early Modern Printed Poetry.” Journal of the Northern Renaissance, vol. 8, 2017, Accessed 18 September 2018.

Abstract not available.

Frawley, Oona. “Edmund Spenser and Transhistorical Memory in Ireland.” Irish University Review, 47.1, 2017, pp. 32-47. Edinburgh University Press.

Edmund Spenser has been beleaguered by some critics who deem him to be a willing and active representative of the worst of English colonial aspirations, and defended by others who see him as a humanist poet caught in the closing jaws of an imperial mission. This vacillation of opinion is seen in the rewriting of Spenser by Irish writers over time. Spenser has also haunted Irish critical work, moving through the contemporary academy in a swift transmission beginning in the 1980s, when ‘Spenser and Ireland’ became a subject of some significance. Yet now, only thirty years later, that attention has been diverted, leaving Spenser, in an Irish context at least, as a placeholder of memory. This essay considers key moments or changes in the rewriting of Spenser’s cultural memory in Ireland, considering the long duration of his figuring in Irish literature and culture as a case study of transhistorical memory. [OF]

Grogan, Jane. “‘Saluage soyl, far from Parnasso Mount’: Spenser and Shakespeare in contemporary Irish writing.” Literature Compass, e12471, 31 July 2018, Accessed 18 September 2018. Wiley Online.

This essay studies the literary politics of the reception of Spenser and Shakespeare in contemporary Irish writing, theatre, and public culture. Often conceived as a project of recovery or restitution, or as a niche interest for urban élites, the mixed fortunes and contrasting politics of Shakespeare and Spenser in 20th‐ and 21st‐century Ireland testify to the still sensitive politics of settlement and plantation, as well as the blind spots of nationalism and the national model of Irish literature. Focussing primarily on the current century, this essay traces crucial lines of reception back to W. B. Yeats and the Irish literary revival, pausing over Frank McGuinness’s important play Mutabilitie (1997), which dared to imagine and provocatively recast both Shakespeare and Spenser’s habitation in Ireland. That project found little support, just months before the Good Friday agreement was signed, but it stands over and guides a significant body of work in Irish drama and poetry in ways that have yet to be fully unpacked. Yet the contrast remains between the hero and the whipping boy, a congenial Shakespeare and a cruel Spenser, in literary engagements with Tudor Ireland. Although Shakespeare has generally been heralded as an enabling or emancipatory figure for Irish writers, this essay proposes that a richer and more radical politics can be accessed by the thornier route of confronting Spenser’s place in Irish culture and history. The essay concludes by outlining a recent flourishing of interest in Spenser that seeks to exploit his potential for Irish culture and politics in these new, more honest but more challenging ways. [JG]

Gordon, Andrew. “The Renaissance Footprint: The Material Trace in Print Culture from Dürer to Spenser.” Renaissance Quarterly, vol. 71, no. 2, 2018, pp. 478-529. University of Chicago Press.

This article argues that Renaissance print culture appropriated the cultural meanings of the footprint. The potent analogy between the printing press and printing foot informed Reformation debates over Christ’s footprints as objects of devotion and subjects of representation. In sixteenth-century England a model for investigative reading informed by Erasmian humanism was developed in the print projects of George Gascoigne and Edmund Spenser. Experimentation with effects of the press and the material environment of the page culminated in extensive play upon the material and metaphorical sign of the printing foot in Spenser’s “Amoretti.” [AG]

Lee, Siyeon. “Colonial Discourse on Irish Dress and the Self as ‘Outward Dress’: Swift’s Sartorial Self-Fashioning.” Eighteenth-Century Fiction, vol. 29 no. 3, 2017, pp. 455-477. University of Toronto Press.

Jonathan Swift’s Irish writings are replete with sartorial imaginings that fashion his unique satirist self by interlacing, for mutual subversion, colonial discourse on Irish dress with a mock-Lockean idea of self as ‘outward Dress.’ Swift contests the legacy of Edmund Spenser’s A View of the State of Ireland (ca. 1596), a colonial attack on Irish dress that combined the Renaissance notion of dress generating identity by permeating the wearer and a more modern presumption of essential differences between the Irish and (New) English. Swift’s insight into Spenser’s contradictory logic penetrates Jack’s sartorial ‘Projects of Separation’ from Peter in A Tale of a Tub (1704), and culminates later in Gulliver’s Travels (1726) and A Modest Proposal (1729) when Gulliver and the Modest Proposer, in deed or word, skin the Yahoos/Irish and literally turn them into shoes, in resonance with both William Wood’s contumely ‘eat [y]our Brogues’ and Spenser’s View. By reversing and revamping the colonial sign of Irish dress, Swift fashions and refashions his satirist self through a conscious mismatch of Anglican habit and Irish brogues. [SL]

Moshenska, Joe. “Spenser at Play.” PMLA, vol. 133, no. 1, 2018, pp. 19-35. Modern Language Association.

Reading The Faerie Queene is like playing. This article develops an account of three relevant tendencies of play—to change through time, to animate its object, and to remain opaque in meaning—and distinguishes this account from other critical understandings of play. It then introduces a historical analogue to Spenser’s playfulness—the giving of formerly holy objects to children as toys during the Reformation—and uses it as a lens through which to read the ending of the first book of Spenser’s poem, where the vast dragon not only becomes a posthumous plaything but also displays surprisingly playful propensities of its own. Readers respond both to this moment and to their own responses to it, playing in the presence of the poem’s opaquely foregrounded meanings. [JM]

Oram, William A. “Looking Backward: The Evolving Genre of The Faerie Queene.Modern Philology, vol. 115, no. 3, 2018, pp. 327-347. University of Chicago Press.

This essay begins by arguing that the mock-epic form of the sixth Canto of Mutabilitie is Spenser’s retrospective farewell to the epic genre.  It goes on to suggest that even the first installment of The Faerie Queene was never a conventional epic or romance-epic, despite Spenser’s efforts to make it appear so (the well-known deviations from the plot in the ‘Letter to Ralegh’ make the poem seem less strange than it is).  Its large organization into books of virtues creates an analytic framework rather than a narrative one, and the Garden of Adonis episode departs from narrative altogether to engage in philosophical speculation.  The 1596 Faerie Queene moves further from the norms of epic in four ways—in its marked avoidance of warfare, in its development of a narrative open-endedness, in the disjunction between narratives of the poems and their allegorical ‘cores,’ and in the increased prominence of the poem’s troubled narrator.  The seventh Canto of Mutabilitie suggests the direction that Spenser might have gone had he lived, the creation of a philosophical-cosmological poetry.  The final stanzas of the Cantos (coupled with the example of the Fowre Hymnes) reemphasize the lyric form that this late direction takes.    

Parker, Ian C. “Marvell and Spenser: ‘The Gallery’ and ‘The Unfortunate Lover’.” Notes and Queries, vol. 64, no. 3, 2017, pp. 427-435. Oxford University Press.

Abstract not available.

Shackleton, David. “The Pageant of Mutabilitie: Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts and The Faerie Queene.” The Review of English Studies, vol. 68, no. 284, 2017, pp. 342-367. Oxford University Press.

By drawing a parallel between Miss La Trobe’s pageant in Woolf’s Between the Acts, and Mutabilitie’s pageant in the Mutabilitie Cantos of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, this article elucidates the role played by the aevum—an order of duration that lies between time and eternity—in Woolf’s last novel. While the fantasy of an aeviternally permanent nature is a comforting one for Lucy Swithin, this inherently conservative temporal fiction carries a troubling politics, and is deeply problematic from various perspectives. It threatens to petrify exploitative gender, colonial and class relations in a changeless nature, with no prospect of emancipatory historical change. Recognizing Woolf’s use of the aevum serves to challenge Brechtian readings of the pageant, and to qualify recent interpretations of Woolf that depict her as holding a revolutionary materialist conception of history, similar to that of Walter Benjamin. [SD]

Shufran, Lauren. “‘Till I in hand her yet halfe trembling tooke’: Doctrines of Justification in Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti.” Renaissance and Reformation, vol. 41, no. 1, 2018, pp. 89-130. University of Toronto Press.

This article claims there is an underlying soteriological conceit in Spenser’s Amoretti (1595) concerning the roles that ‘works’ and ‘grace’ play in the beloved’s requital: roles with theological analogues in justification, the means by which people were declared righteous before God. I show how Spenser’s lover struggles with works-righteousness, and how Spenser betrays ‘Protestant’ thought about the inadequacy of works even as his lover insists upon them. Spenser’s lover fails repeatedly in his labours until grace comes to him, unwilled, in a moment of concession. His ‘works’ afterward become meaningful—but only according to the reformed understanding by which good works come after faith. Still, a doctrinal line cannot be perfectly drawn, since requital is effected through poetic labour. I propose this irresolution is a consequence of Spenser’s attention to Paul’s Epistles, and their occasional affirmations of the usefulness of law despite their overwhelming insistence on grace. It also stems from the lack of a reformed doctrinal consensus about the role of works after justification. [LS]

Sokolov, Danila. “Mirabella’s Crime and the Laws of Love in The Faerie Queene 6.7–8.” Studies in Philology, vol. 115, no. 1, 2018, pp. 73-98. University North Carolina Press.

In an often-neglected episode from book 6 of Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene, the beautiful courtly lady Mirabella rejects the love of numerous suitors and thereby causes their death. For her transgression, she is tried and sentenced at the court of Cupid. This essay considers the historical and poetic meaning of the law that determines the judgment of Mirabella. On the one hand, the episode revives several aspects of the medieval poetic tradition of amorous jurisprudence, imagining her crime as a violation of the laws of love (a distinct legal sphere outside of the reach of positive law where desire can claim a jurisdictional autonomy). At the same time, Spenser’s text suggests that Mirabella’s actions can be also construed as murder, which translates her transgression into the language of the common law of felony. As the essay demonstrates, The Faerie Queene intertwines the poetic laws of love with the mechanisms of the common law, creating a powerful legal resonance that both curbs the oppressive ambitions of Elizabethan positive law and reshapes medieval erotic law to answer the demands of modernity. As a result, the episode imagines a heterogeneous and more successful legality that reconciles the past and the present and the juridical and the poetic, in the process asserting the unrivaled power of poetry to articulate a vision of justice. [DS]

Spellmire, Adam. “The Blatant Beast and the ‘Endlesse Trace’ of Spenserian Romance.” University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 87, no. 1, 2018, pp. 25-41. University of Toronto Press.

In Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, the Blatant Beast, a slanderous monster who defames aristocratic characters, both threatens and helps generate the poem. His attacks unsettle the hierarchies and reputations essential to romance and its quest to fashion heroes, but the Beast’s untrustworthy language and interruptive appearances also align him with the wandering typical of the genre. This tension reveals the text’s ambivalence toward the possibility of fashioning a gentleman, a claim that Spenser explicitly makes for his verses. The Faerie Queene‘s later books seem especially aware that something monstrous in fallen language itself disrupts this poetic project, a disruption that the Blatant Beast embodies. [AS]

Taylor, Amanda. “The Compounded Body: Bodily Knowledge Production in the Works of Andreas Vesalius and Edmund Spenser.” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, vol. 48, no. 1, 2018, pp. 153-182. Duke University Press.

The sixteenth century witnessed the publication of landmark texts on anatomy and allegory: De humani corporis fabrica or On the Fabric of the Human Body by Andreas Vesalius in 1543 and The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, published first in 1590. Each of these texts has received considerable attention in regard to the human body. Vesalius’s illustrations provided new information about human anatomy accessible to a much wider audience, and in book II of The Faerie Queene, Spenser allegorizes the body in relation to the question of temperance. The question of temperance is fundamentally a medical one because it interrogates the body’s humoral composition and how that composition is changed — and the body literally remade — as a result of external influences. In spite of these shared thematic and medical aspects, comparative approaches to these masterpieces by the chief anatomist and chief allegorist of the sixteenth century are scarce. Through an examination of these texts, this article argues that both works share an identifiable bodily epistemology that positions knowledge production in the bodies of all, including women and lower-status men. Even as this bodily epistemology offers an idealized representation of the presumably male body, that idealization is also inextricably linked to nonidealized, even abject bodies, so that these early modern notions of bodily knowledge production both undergird and challenge assumptions about gender and class. [AT]

Temple, Camilla. “The Greek Anthology in the Renaissance: Epigrammatic Scenes of Reading in Spenser’s Faerie Queene.” Studies in Philology, vol. 115 no. 1, 2018, pp. 48-72. University North Carolina Press.

This article considers the reception of the ancient Greek ecphrastic epigram in the Renaissance, specifically in the work of Andrea Alciato (1492–1550) and Edmund Spenser (1552?–1599). The focus is on a particular kind of epigram, which takes the form of a dialogue wherein the passerby questions an allegorical statue about its significance, and the statue responds with a form of self-commentary. This type of poem was of particular interest to the author of the first emblem book, Alciato, who used the epigrams to inspire a number of his emblem poems. Partly by means of the emblems, the Greek epigrams came to influence various moments in Spenser’s epic poem, The Faerie Queene. This article argues that the dialogic form of the epigram suggests to Spenser the importance of the scene of viewing as a sophisticated aesthetic subject. I discuss the role of this kind of epigram in relation to the Occasion figure in The Faerie Queene 2.4, but also in connection to a number of allegorical statues in the poem. Furthermore, this article focuses on the figure of the unknowing passerby who appears in the epigrams and emblems to argue for the importance of a knowing and naïve viewpoint in Spenser’s poem. [CT]


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"Articles," Spenser Review 48.3.12 (Fall 2018). Accessed April 14th, 2024.
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