English 177 - Fall, 2022

Study of an Individual Author

Topic: Edmund Spenser

Class Information

Instructor: Werth, Tiffany Jo
CRN: 52768
Time: MW 1:40-3:00
Location: 308 Voorhies
GE Areas: Writing Experience


ENL177: Single Author Focus
The Chthulucene in Edmund Spenser?s The Faerie Queene (1596)

Modern readers might think of Edmund Spenser as the author of one of England?s longest poems writ, as Ben Jonson quipped, in ?no language.? An unfinished work, it praises Queen Elizabeth I, memorialized as Gloriana, Belphoebe, Cynthia, or the ?Faerie Queene.? Yet while the poem seemingly shadows this human monarch, she barely appears and its world teems with what cultural geographer Sarah Whatmore terms more-than-human life: a ?clownishe? and elfin knight, a mournful tree, an unfriendly dragon, false avatars, a crafty shape-shifting hermit, a resourceful dwarf, an iron man, gender-bending heroines, giants and a blatant beast; its interwoven plot spotlights two rivers in love, a sea deity who sulks, graces and angels who disappear, self-guided lances, a headstrong horse and a happy human-come-hog. This course explores the limits of literary modes such as allegory, the poetics of lyric, and the long form of the early modern romance alongside questions that stretch the meaning of ?human.? Together, we will analyze Spenser?s ?worlding? that anticipates many recent posthumanist theories (ecofeminism, the Chthulucene, game theory, geontologies, and other unthinkables).

A word to the intended reader: the readings that comprise our nine weeks together will be ?clowdily enwrapped,? full of ?darke conceit,? an ?endlesse worke? that may at times ?seeme tedious and confused.? But if pursued like a hound on the scent, it promises more pleasure than a sermon and the ability ?to fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline.?


10% Weekly Reading Quizzes (via Canvas)

5% Compose a Spenserian Stanza

5% Compose a new footnote for a scholarly edition of The Faerie Queene

20% Material History Research Exercise (3-4 pp)
15% written review
5% presentation

10% Research proposal & annotated bibliography

May build off the history exercise; 6-8 secondary peer-reviewed sources; one paragraph that justifies your archive of chosen passages from the syllabus and one paragraph research question and annotated bibliography of secondary sources 6-8 sources with one to two paragraphs of critical annotation each.

30% Critical Essay or Creative Analytic Project (8-10 pp)

20% Final Exam


The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser