Edmund Spenser and Animal Life
A colloquium at the University of Sussex, Centre for Early Modern and Medieval Studies Friday 18th June 2021
Horses, lions, apes, butterflies, sheep, and aqueous creatures of many forms populate Spenser’s landscapes and poetic worlds, from the romance geography of The Faerie Queene to the pastoral realm of The Shepheardes Calender and beyond. Despite its panoply of non-human life, though, Spenser’s oeuvre has so far been neglected by animal studies. Led by scholars such as Erica Fudge, Laurie Shannon, Bruce Boehrer, and Karen Raber, this is a critical and philosophical approach that has lately gained much traction in early modern scholarship. Spenserians have brought posthuman approaches more broadly into dialogue with the poet’s works, namely in the special edition of Spenser Studies entitled Spenser and ‘The Human’ (2015, ed. Ayesha Ramachandran and Melissa E. Sanchez). And some important representative writings exist, Joseph Loewenstein’s 2007 essay ‘Gryll’s Hoggish Mind’, being key. But are we right to think that Spenser has ‘virtually no affective’, but instead a ‘highly theoretical’, engagement with fauna? What might that theoretical engagement look and sound like? What are the affect and the effect of the animal in Spenser’s work? How do we position animal life in Spenser’s thought and his creativity?
Possible topics might include but are not limited to
o Spenser’s theorisation of animal life
o The works’ representation of particular species
o The connection between animals and genre or form
o Spenser’s influence on his period’s understanding of animal life
o The animal and the political
o Animals and race
o Empire and animals
o Spenser’s animals and religion (parable, biblical animals)
o Spenser’s speaking animals
o How animal life figures in Spenser’s notion of the ‘human’.
Please send 200 word proposals, with a 50-word bio, to Dr Rachel Stenner at the University of Sussex (email@example.com) and Dr Abigail Shinn at Goldsmiths (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Wednesday 31st March 2021. In the hopes that a blended event (partially in person and partially online) is possible, a limited number of travel bursaries will be available for postgraduate researchers and unsalaried postdocs. Please indicate your interest in receiving one of these on your proposal, with detail of your stage of study.
 Joseph Loewenstein, ‘Gryll’s Hoggish Mind’, Spenser Studies, 22 (2007), 243-56 (244–6).