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Worldmaking Spenser reexamines the role of Spenser's work in English history and highlights the richness and complexity of his understanding of place. The volume centers on the idea that complex and allusive literary works such as The Faerie Queene must be read in the context of the cultural, literary, political, economic, and ideological forces at play in the highly allegorical poem. The authors define Spenser as the maker of poetic worlds, of the Elizabethan world, and of the modern world. The essays look at Spenser from three distinct vantage points. The contributors explore his literary origins in classical, medieval, and Renaissance continental writings and his influences on sixteenth-century culture. Spenser also had a great impact on later literary figures, including Lady Mary Wroth and Aemilia Lanyer, two of the seventeenth century's most important writers. The authors address the full range of Spenser's work, both long and short poetry as well as prose. The essays unequivocally demonstrate that Spenser occupies a substantial place in a seminal era in English history and European culture.

Patrick Cheney, professor of English and comparative literature at Penn State University, is the author of Spenser's Famous Flight: A Renaissance Idea of a Literary Career.

Lauren Silberman, professor of English at Baruch College-CUNY, is the author of Transforming Desire: Erotic Knowledge in Books III and IV of "The Faerie Queene."

"Any Spenserian will find much to enjoy."—Bibliotheque d’Humanisme et Renaissance

"An inspirational exploration of new and updated directions for these most canonical of early modern offerings."—Comparative Literature Studies

"No other anthology of criticism on Spenser currently on the shelves can match this for breadth of topics covered, freshness of insight, number and depth of historical and cultural contexts explored, and variety of scholarly methods pursued."—Donald V. Stump

"The provocative essays in this volume present new readings of Spenser's Faerie Queene while offering reinterpretations of some of the critical approaches to it."—John T. Shawcross

"Goes some way in helping us understand the vast variety of approaches to the poet that are available to the modern reader and critic."—Notes and Queries

"A formidable volume of essays."—Reformation

"Makes a strong case for seeing in Spenser (and Spenser studies) a productive staging-ground for a variety of concerns central to early modern studies today: colonialism, gender, literary history, and self-fashioning, to name but a few."—Renaissance Quarterly

"These contributions are usefully varied in their subject matter and methodology."—SEL

"These essays . . . provide an excellent overview not only of Spenser studies but of approaches and topics current in early modern studies; they also suggest areas and directions for further work."—Spenser Review

"Evinces a sense of mobility and ease, in its transformations of apparent impasses to which readings of the last decade and a half had brought us."—Theresa M. Krier

"Showcases some of the best kinds of Spenserian criticism, while serving to defend Spenser studies in an expanding curriculum."—Year’s Work in English Studies

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Edmund Spenser, Early modern English literature, English Renaissance literature, English poetry


Literature in English, British Isles

Worldmaking Spenser: Explorations in the Early Modern Age
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