Enabling Engagements

Enabling Engagements: Edmund Spenser and the Poetics of Patronage

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Enabling Engagements
    Book Description:

    Enabling Engagements contributes to current critical debates regarding early modern subjectivity and early modern cultural capital. In stressing the boldness of Edmund Spenser's poetics of patronage, Judith Owens shows that Elizabethans could and did exercise agency within a wide range of institutions. By consistently challenging assumptions of courtly hegemony in early modern society, Owens suggests a new appraisal of the processes of cultural commodification.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6997-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. 1 Contexts
    (pp. 3-39)

    Edmund Spenser’s address to Lady Carew, with whom he claimed kinship, brings together instructively several of the matters informing my study.² Lady Carew is one of only two women to be individually addressed in the sequence of dedicatory sonnets appended to the 1590Faerie Queene. (The other is the Countess of Pembroke, sister of Philip Sidney, and her presence seems primarily designed to permit Spenser’s invoking the spirit of Sidney.) Since Lady Carew was not the most prominent of the women in Elizabeth’s court, her inclusion in a socially astute sequence of dedications seems intended to promote Spenser’s personal affiliation...

  6. 2 The Shepheardes Calender
    (pp. 40-68)

    The patronly relations of theCalenderare subtle, complex, and multi-layered: in the introductory and editorial apparatus of the volume, Spenser-Immerito solicits patronage from Sidney and, perhaps, from the Earl of Leicester; E.K. (who may well be Spenser himself)¹ patronizes and presents the “new Poete,” asking Gabriel Harvey to act as patron as well; within the fiction of theCalender, Spenser’s relationship with Harvey is figured in that of Colin and Hobbinol, whose relationship is itself subject, I will argue, to differing constructions by E.K. and Spenser. In this chapter I will contend that to follow closely the very intricate...

  7. 3 Commendatory Verses
    (pp. 69-87)

    At stake in Spenser’s poem of nationhood, more so than in theCalender, is the relationship between sovereign and subject – the corporate, rather than private, subject. In the commendatory poems by patrons, in Spenser’s dedicatory sonnets and Letter, and in the commerce between Spenser and patrons, we can both register the boldness of Spenser’s enterprise and witness competing versions of the relationship between subject and sovereign. Such measures help us to gauge more precisely the subject position from which Spenser launches his national poem. Andrew Hadfield has recently argued that, while both “nation” and “literature” were shifting, permeable categories in...

  8. 4 The Dedicatory Sonnets
    (pp. 88-109)

    The Faerie Queenehas for long been regarded as the most sustained and articulate paean to Elizabeth produced in Elizabethan or any other times. And Spenser’s epideictic purposes do shape his vision in fundamental ways.¹ Such a reading can, however, unduly narrow Spenser’s audience, and find in his relationship with court and Crown only the dynamics of subjection. We have seen that the commendatory verses attached to the 1590Faerie Queenerender competing versions of that relationship. Close attention to the printing of the volume, and to Spenser’s promotion of it, confirms that the politics of his poem of nationhood...

  9. 5 Ralegh in The Faerie Queene III
    (pp. 110-132)

    Not mere puffs, the dedicatory sonnets issue from the political, moral, and imaginative imperatives of Spenser’s art of empire, as we have seen. In this chapter, I wish to examine the effects of these imperatives on Spenser’s epic project at the point where patronal pressures and Irish exigencies merge: the story of Timias in Book 3.¹ Through this story, Spenser offers a reformative mirror of his patron’s poetics and Irish career. Spenser’s fiction, I will argue, reflects particularly the damaging effects of Ralegh’s Petrarchism on the heroic form and energy needed to refashion Ireland.

    The proem to Book 3 signals...

  10. 6 Conclusion
    (pp. 133-142)

    I began this study by reading Spenser’s 1590 dedicatory sonnet to Lady Carew as an index to the complexity and suppleness of his patronal relations. Through the course of the book, we have seen that, within the potential confinements of patronage, Spenser finds means to amplify his sense of agency as well as room for the amplitude of his moral, political, and poetic imagination. In closing, I will turn to Spenser’s 1596 fictional treatment, in Book 4 ofThe Faerie Queene, of his patron Ralegh’s clandestine marriage to Elizabeth Throckmorton, the event that occasioned Ralegh’s most serious fall from Queen...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 143-162)
  12. Works Cited
    (pp. 163-176)
  13. Index
    (pp. 177-183)