NameRosenfeld, Colleen Ruth (author), Miller, Jacqueline T. (chair), Coiro, Ann Baynes (internal member), Bartels, Emily C. (internal member), Crane, Mary T. (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
SubjectLiteratures in English,
English literature--England--History and criticism,
Knowledge, Theory of,
Spenser, Edmund, 1552?-1599--Criticism and interpretation
DescriptionThis dissertation considers how questions of poetic form in literary studies converge with questions of epistemology in the early modern period. As early modern pedagogues sought to define the relationship between the arts of speaking and of thinking – rhetoric
and dialectic – they spent a good deal of time describing what poetic figures might and might not do in an attempt to preserve thinking, and the mind itself, from the threat of linguistic mutability. I examine how Edmund Spenser’s poetic practices pushed against
prevailing pedagogical proscriptions, driving a wedge between an ideal of decorous proportion and the natural limitations this ideal claimed to represent. Drawing on a range of humanist theories and practices – from Latin lectures on rhetoric and dialectic to
vernacular handbooks of eloquence – I argue that Spenser experimented with poetic forms as instruments of thinking at a moment when the university characterized these same forms as the mere ornaments of speaking. While recent scholarship has done much to revive form as an object of study, Spenserian poetics teaches us to read form not as an effect of ideology or circumstance but as the engine of a certain kind of thinking that early modern schoolrooms were looking to exclude. I call this thinking “indecorous” and my dissertation tracks its activity from the disciplinary reforms of 1570s Cambridge to the borders of Elizabeth’s empire, arguing that forms as varied as the pun, the couplet, and the simile offer a model of the mind in which thinking is embedded in the time and
labor of poetic production.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Colleen Ruth Rosenfeld
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.