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ENGL410 - Edmund Spenser

"As a friend of Gabriel Harvey and a client of Sir Philip Sidney, a secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton (Lord Deputy of Ireland, 1580-1582), and a New English planter himself, Edmund Spenser was at the center of some of England’s most controversial political and cultural moments of the late sixteenth century. Spenser was a politician and a poet—and a political poet. He was also one of the chief architects of 16th century race-thinking, and chief proponents of English colonial policy. We like to pretend that art is not tied to politics. But art has always been tied to politics. Culture is not neutral.

Prerequisite: Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department. Selected works of Edmund Spenser in their literary, social, and historical contexts. Special attention to The Faerie Queene; also sonnets and lyric poetry.

In this class, we will explore Spenser’s political interventions, and how we can use him for our own. Contemporary artists like Kehinde Wiley show us through painting and sculpture one way to address our past: to show the art that should have been, to intervene in what was, and to fill in its blank spaces. Spenser was at the center of some of the most controversial political and cultural moments of the English Renaissance. We will examine his politics in such short(er) poems as The Shepheardes Calender, prose pieces such as A View of the Present State of Ireland, and selected books from Spenser’s long poem, The Faerie Queene. Throughout, we will consider how Spenser can be turned to our political purposes: how he has been used, and can be used, as rhetoric for resistance.

0101 - Kimberly Coles

Schedule of Classes
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