Friday, November 06, 2009

Spenser/Milton bleg

Next semester I'm teaching an M.A. seminar on Milton, as well as doing an independent study with another M.A. student who has already taken both an undergraduate Milton and a graduate Spenser class--but who wants to reread both authors and get more deeply into the secondary criticism.

Now, I'm a Miltonist, after a fashion, but I usually teach Milton at the undergraduate level--with just a few critical essays or book chapters as supplements. When I teach Spenser it's only a book or two at a time, and I know nothing, absolutely nothing about Spenser criticism, old or new.

So tell me, Renaissance peeps: what criticism (articles or book chapters, or one or two entire books) would you consider essential for M.A. students to read on either author?


Sapience said...

I'm doing my PhD exam reading right now, and while Spenser isn't my thing (I'm only reading Carole Kaske's "Spenser's Biblical Poetics"), Milton is. I'd recommend:

Absolute essentials: Lewis's Preface to Paradise Lost, Fish's Surprised by Sin, Empson's Milton's God (doesn't need to be the whole thing, though). A chapter from Lewalski's Milton's Brief Epic if you are doing Paradise Regained in a serious way.

Slightly more recent stuff I like: Stephen Dobranski's Milton, Authorship and the Book Trade. I found the intro and the chapter on Areopagitica really useful. It can be great to pair those with Lewalski's article in Milton in the Age of Fish (probably a few other articles in there would be good--I think there's a great one on Samson Agonistes and 9-11). Stephen Fallon's new book Milton's Peculiar Grace is also quite good. I also like David Loewenstein's Representing Revolution in Milton and his Contemporaries, and Laura Knopper's Historicizing Milton.

medieval woman said...

Flavia-Flave, you know I'm no Spenserian, buuuuut our mutual friend J who is here at the Dream Academy with me is certainly a Spenserian, so knock off a quick email and you'll get a font of critical suggestions!

Anonymous said...

There's a special issue of Milton Quarterly about Spenserian echoes in Milton's Comus that might be a good starting point for you. I think it is 37.4.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I love Pat Parker on romance in general and Spenser in particular.


Renaissance Girl said...

I like Sapience's Milton suggestions. I would add, if you do Comus, Donald Friedman's _Comus and the Truth of the Ear_, which has always made the masque really vital for me, and for my students too.

Jonathan Goldberg on Spenser is near the top of my list. He makes sense of boring Bk 4.

Anonymous said...

Sapience is right on re Milton basics. You might add Haskin's _Milton's Burden of Interpretation_ (terrific on how JM read the Bible) and the new biography by Campbell & Corns.

Spenser criticism is mostly disappointing--I've never been sure why. I suppose your student should read some Berger and Nohrnberg, if only to see what s/he is up against.

Cheers, TG

Flavia said...

Ah, I was afraid this would happen!

I appreciate the Milton recs--it's great to get other people's perspective on what's necessary for very junior grad students, esp. when my own predilections tend to be skewed toward the stuff I work on and/or my own scholarly prejudices--but what I actually need is Spenser. So please keep those coming, if they're out there to come. . .

Anonymous said...

Here's the criticism I assigned last time I taught Spenser to undergrads at an elite liberal arts college.

Paul Alpers, "Pastoral and the Domain of Lyric in Spenser's Shepheardes Calendar, Representations 12 (1985): 83-102.

Louis Montrose, ''The perfecte paterne of a Poete': The Poetics of Courtship in The Shepheardes Calendar," Texas Sudies in Literature and Language 21 (1979): 34-67.

Elizabeth Bellamy, "Reading Desire Backwards: Belatedness and Spenser's Arthur," South Atlantic Quarterly 88 (1989): 789-809

Stephen Greenblatt, from "To Fashion a Gentleman: Spenser and the Destruction of the Bower of Bliss" in Renaissance Self-fashioning (Chicago, 1980), 169-192.

Suzanne Wofford, 'Gendering Allegory: Spenser's Bold Reader and the Emergence of Character in The Faerie Queene III," Criticism 30 (1987): 1-22.

Lauren Silberman, "Book IV: Retrospection and the Undoing of Book III" and "The Legend of Cambel and Triamond" in Transforming Desire: Erotic Knowledge in Books III and IV of The Faerie Queene (University of California, 1995), 71-98.

Jonathan Crewe, "Spenser's Saluage Petrarchanism: Pensées Sauvage in The Faerie Queene" in Reconfiguring the Renaissance (Bucknell University Press, 1992), 89-103.

Teresa Krier, "The Human Form: Surfaces and Secrets" in Gazing on Secret Sights: Spenser, Classical Imitation and the Decorums of Vision (Cornell, 1990), 113-147.

Flavia said...

That's what I'm talking about! Many thanks, Anon 10.20 (and Veralinda and RG, and those who emailed me off-blog).

I've got a really good start on both classes/independent studies now. Thanks again, everyone.