English | Spenser & Milton
L622 | 25915 | Anderson

L622  25915 ANDERSON  (#2)
Spenser & Milton

1:00p  2:15p TR

Mainly, this will be a course on the two major epics in English,
Spenser=s Faerie Queene and Milton=s Paradise Lost.  Spenser=s
culturally encyclopedic romance-epic is the most important poem of
the English High Renaissance and the equivalent for poetry of what
Shakespeare is for the drama in the period.  Milton=s epic is
probably the single most influential poem ever written in English,
and is has a close relationship to Spenser=s. We=ll also be
considering ideas about metaphor and allegory as we proceedCthe
latter most simply defined in the Renaissance as continued
metaphor.  Allegory is basic to all forms of representation in
language, and it conspicuously affects writers both earlier and
later than Spenser, including those of the nineteenth century (e.g.,
Dickens or Hawthorne) or of the twentieth (e.g., Ionesco or
Beckett).   But I want to emphasize that, while various larger
connections will enrich our reading, the first responsibility of the
course will be to Spenser=s and Milton=s epics, in themselves both
aesthetically and culturally complex and engaging poems.  We=ll read
them closely and in detail.

Work in the course will feature a presentation, a relatively short
exploratory essay, and an essay of conference length (8-10 pages).
The major text for Spenser The Faerie Queene, ed. A.  C.  Hamilton,
2nd edition (Longman, 2001); discounted copies are likely to be
available locally and on-line.  If the third edition is out before
fall, either the second or third edition will serve.  For Milton,
I=ll order The Riverside Milton, ed. Roy Flannagan (Houghton
Mifflin, 1998); again discounted copies are probably easily
available.  If you want to use another complete, recent, annotated
edition of Paradise Lost, the class can cope with your doing so, but
there are advantages to using The Riverside, since it includes
extensive background material and other writings by Milton to which
we=ll refer, and in the longer term it provides an essential item
for a personal library.

Please try to read or reread Book I of The Faerie Queene before
class meets.  Aside from this request, the most useful reading
beforehand (not required!) would involve broad cultural background:
e.g., for pleasure and profit, Edgar Wind, Pagan Mysteries in the
Renaissance, revised edition; Roy Strong, The Cult of Elizabeth or
Frances A. Yates, Astrea: The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth
Century, Part II; or Philippa Berry, Of Chastity and Power, intro.
and chap. 1.  If you prefer to read theories of allegory, consider
Carolynn Van Dyke=s Fiction of Truth, introduction and Part I; or
perhaps dipping into Gordon Teskey=s Allegory and Violence, or
Mendele Ann Treip=s Allegorical Poetics and Epic.  Every year, I
receive a few requests beforehand for suggested readings; I offer
these in this spirit.