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Lit and Eco Bibliography II

Page history last edited by Eric Leonidas 1 year, 2 months ago
Anderson , Judith H. “Acrasian Fantasies: Outsides, Insides, Upsides, Downsides in the Bower of Bliss.” A Touch More Rare: Harry Berger, Jr., and the Arts of Interpretation, Fordham University Press, 2009, pp. 77–91.  Anderson draws upon her association with Harry Berger (see below) to critique his theory that Acrasia embodies male power or is, in fact, “male discourse in drag” (89). Anderson writes that her intention is to find “that there is much in the Bower that is not accounted for by a generic and exclusive category of misogynist male discourse” (80). She frames this as a comparison between the “outsides and insides,” or more specifically, the role of the narrator (the poet?) as more ambivalent than that of the characters (Guyon and the Palmer) with regard to the Bower. Viewing Acrasia from the “outside,” then, there are no “moralistic intrusions” (83). Anderson’s perspective is interesting because she plays with language, such as in the word “substance,” which she claims Acrasia possesses quite literally (“standing under” or subordinate) (83). She also refers to Guyon as “our hysterical male hero,” surely an intentional usage. Anderson dismisses the idea that “women’s sole creative options are lies or babies” (90); she aligns Acrasia with Ovid’s Arachne, who is creative, subversive, and unquestionably female.
Balzar, Rachel. “A Time and Place for Premarital Desire: Positive Uses of Lust in Edmund Spenser's 'The Faerie Queene.’” Scholarly Horizons: University of Minnesota, Morris Undergraduate Journal, vol. 1, no. 2, 2014, Article 13. Although this article is written by an undergraduate, there are some compelling ideas here which may inform my argument. Specifically, Balzar argues that the reader of “The Faerie Queene” should put aside the presupposition that lust is inherently repulsive. She draws a distinction between Spenser’s “characters who are punished for their lust and those who are not” (1), with the unpunished being those who are upper class and who do not “consummate their lust outside of marriage” (1-2). For a paper that (I hope) takes the idea of nature into such careful consideration, Balzar’s theories can be useful, since she argues that those who work in the natural world lack restraint and are thus more likely to give in to their desires. Although she uses Books Three and Four as her main sources, she does discuss Guyon’s temperance and places him, of course, in the category of those who “would never act on their darker motivations” (footnote iii, 9).
Berger, Harry. “Wring Out the Old: Squeezing the Text, 1951–2001.” Spenser Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, 2003, pp. 81–121., doi:10.1086/spsv18p81. After studying Spenser for the fifty years noted in the article’s title, Berger challenges himself to look at “The Faerie Queene,” and particularly Book II, from a feminist perspective which did not exist at the time of his initial readings. He pays special attention to the Bowre of Bliss and Acrasia. When referring to the “natural” order, Berger clarifies that he means “visualizable (and thus allegorizable”), with the Bowre representing “a sense of place the reader is invited mentally to imagine and travel through” (85). Through close reading of the text as well as a review of criticism by C.S. Lewis and others, Berger has altered what he now sees as his formerly “misogynistic and gynephobic” interpretation; he notes that canto xii’s “confrontation between Temperance and Pleasure ...[depicts] ...a transgendering of power in which accountability is shifted from male to female agency” (98). Berger theorizes that Acrasia embodies maleness in that she is the powerful and dominant force.
Campana, Joseph. “Boy Toys and Liquid Joys: Pleasure and Power in the Bower of Bliss.” Modern Philology, vol. 106, no. 3, 2009, pp. 465–496., doi:10.1086/605073. In this article, Campana examines the water imagery Spenser uses in Book II, especially as Guyon journeys to the Bower of Bliss. He refers to other critics and theorists, such as Berger (see above), Foucault, and Greenblatt, in support of his assertion that Book II depicts “transformative patterns of pleasure that reshape the contours of heroic masculinity by suggesting the ethical ramifications of experiencing pleasure as a physical and affective vulnerability, an openness to others” (478). The story of Guyon and the Palmer shows “the disastrous consequences of the attempt to moderate pleasure” (478); Foucault would, Campana notes, differentiate between two varieties of power -- the power to destroy and suppress life (which Guyon does), and the power to foster or discipline (which the Palmer does). Campana argues that Spenser calls masculine energy into question in Book II, and poses a defense of Acrasia and the waters of the Bower, which are seen as thirst-quenching and even rejuvenating. Campana also touches upon the importance of poetry, a discussion that mayserve as part of a larger argument in my paper, if my research takes me in that direction.  



Cavanagh, Sheila T. “Nightmares of Desire: Evil Women in 'The Faerie Queene'.” Studies in Philology,vol. 91, no. 3, 1994, pp. 313–338.

Katherine Eggert (see below) uses Cavanagh as a source for her work, although Cavanagh’s argument is at first reading more straightforward than Eggert’s: Cavanagh examines Spenser’s women as monstrous witches, inhuman and deceptive. “Evil women,” notes Cavanagh, are products of the dream world, or more accurately, the nightmare-world, and thus are personifications of repressed male sexual desire (316). While virtuous women are scarce in Spenser’s epic, three types of women appear regularly: the witch, the succubus, and the hag. Having no humanity, these women can have no autonomy, and are therefore overpowered by the male characters. Because Guyon faints at the cave of Mammon, the reader sees Guyon’s potential for weakness in the face of temptation, an idea that parallels Guyon’s subsequent moment of weakness at the sight of the Damzelles. Cavanagh writes that Guyon’s embarrassment at his near-failure to observe restraint is the catalyst for the anger he employs to destroy the Bower. Is he substituting one form of unrestrained behavior for another, that is, violence instead of lust? Or is his acting out, Cavanagh wonders, a reaction to his anger at Acrasia’s ability to imitate nature? In keeping with Spenser’s Protestantism, Cavanagh points out that witches were associated with Catholicism; thus, they would be a completely negative force in Spenser’s world, and, like all “inhuman” depictions of the female, a nightmare force intent on the weakening, or even vampirism, of virtuous men.


Eggert, Katherine. “Spenser’s Ravishment: Rape and Rapture in The Faerie Queene.” Representations ,no. 70, 2000, pp. 1–26., doi:10.1007/978-1-137-10448-9_14.  
Eggert’s article seems to align well with Merchant’s analysis of nature as female, in that Eggert discusses the “invasions of feminine spaces” (2) by the male characters of “The Faerie Queene.”

Because Spenser’s work is allegorical, Eggert uses Gordon Teskey’s theory that “allegory is inextricably linked to a systematic program of violence” (2) to support her own assertions that Spenser, although relying on the commonly used trope of sexual assault, actually feels “uneasiness” about this and depicts, instead of complete ravishment of the female, mutual rapture on the part of both male and female. She points to Acrasia, who clearly derives pleasure from sex, in support of her argument. She posits that, in destroying the Bower, Guyon is committing a type of rape, a rape that obliterates the sexual pleasure of women. Interestingly, and possibly vital to my paper, Eggert claims that “ultimate power is conveyed...by means of acquiring access to the truth, whether spiritual, moral, marital, or genealogical. By this logic, rape indeed ought to be a tool of revelation, willfully entering the dark and vicious place of begetting in order to see the light” (6); however, this does not happen as a result of Guyon’s possession of the Bower, and Guyon learns nothing from his journey because he sees without knowing(7).  



Hamilton, A. C. The Spenser Encyclopedia. University of Toronto Press, 1990. Google Books. This is a source that I have referred to once when writing a brief paper. I may use it as a reference for dates and clarifications. Merchant, Carolyn. “Nature as Female.” Ecocriticism: the Essential Reader, by Ken Hiltner, Routledge, 2015. Merchant notes that a primary metaphor for the individual in society and in the world has been the idea of nature as feminine. She uses excerpts from literature, including Spenser, to argue that this controlling imagery presents two opposing views of both women and nature: as a benevolent mother and as an uncontrolled force. However, as humans invented machines that could dominate nature, the idea of nature as female had to evolve, which is Merchant’s main argument: as culture changes, the controlling imagery must change as well. Mining the earth for diamonds, for example, cannot be reconciled with the image of nature as a kindly mother, since one doesn’t “mutilate” one’s mother. Merchant notes that in “The Faerie Queene”, Spenser uses Mammon’s greed and excess to show the pollution of a “passive and docile” world which allows “all manner of assault, violence, ill-treatment, rape by lust, and despoilment by greed” (29).  



Quilligan, Maureen. “The Comedy of Female Authority in The Faerie Queene.” English Literary Renaissance, vol. 17, no. 2, 1987, pp. 156–171., doi:10.1111/j.1475-6757.1987.tb00930.x. Although Quilligan does not address Book II in any depth, she does look at gender roles and power in the epic itself, especially in relation to Queen Elizabeth I and what she may have found humorous. Quilligan considers “The Faerie Queene” as a comedy, rather than as an allegory, and part of the comedy, she suggests, arises from the confusion of gender roles: “may a female act?” is the question she poses. She points out that allegory views authoritative figures as female due to the rules of grammar and language (161), and thus female characters may indeed act, although, relevant to my paper, Belphoebe’s appearance in Book II shows her both as a subject and an object. This is a parallel to Elizabeth I, who is regarded for both her gender (a chaste female) and her political power (163).  



Sanchez, Melissa E. “‘Use Me But as Your Spaniel’: Feminism, Queer Theory, and Early Modern Sexualities.” PMLA 127(3), MLA, May 2012, www.mlajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1632/pmla.2012.127.3.493. By examining both “The Faerie Queene” and A Midsummer Night’s Dream from a queer-feminist lens, Sanchez proposes that “rather than pity or pathologize representations of female desires that appear undignified or disempowering, we recognize these representations’ potential to generate new understandings of sexual variation” (494-5). Sanchez pays particular attention to the “Damzelle” scene which unfolds as Guyon travels to the Bowre of Bliss. She asserts that, in its homoeroticism, “this episode illustrates the appeals of sexual danger, recklessness, and vulnerability for women as well as men” (498). Because the women are not performing for Guyon at first, but rather, enjoying themselves in drowning-play, they hold the initial power, and are more of a threat to Guyon than he is to them. The points of view here shift from Guyon to the women and back, so the “male gaze” is not the only one at work in this passage. Sanchez notes that this sexual exchange is without “love, commitment, or procreation” 500), which will lend support to my argument that Spenser draws a line between a lustful relationship (which is to be avoided) and a union of the intellect or spirit.



Soper, Kate. “The Discourses of Nature.” Ecocriticism: the Essential Reader,by Ken Hiltner, Routledge, 2015. Soper defines “nature” as everything that is not human or the work of humanity; nature is that which humans had no part in creating. She also distinguishes between nature and human nature. This distinction may prove to be useful as I attempt to discuss Spenser’s “The Faerie Queene,” which, among its many themes, poses questions about art and artifice, the nature of creativity, and “humanity as in its very being opposed to nature” (269). I would pay special attention to the workings of Alma’s castle as distinguished from Acrasia’s Bower. Spenser, Edmund, and Anne Lake Prescott. "The Faerie Queene Book II." Edmund Spenser's Poetry. New York: Norton, 2014. 163-230. Print. This is the primary source for the paper. Spenser depicts the elfin knight Guyon in a constant struggle with temperance. Although he must battle greed and wrath, the biggest challenge to his temperance comes in the form of lust. Women, who take on a multitude of forms, both human and animal, in order to tempt Guyon, are seen as parallel to the natural world and its chaotic lustfulness. However, through a close reading of Book II, the paper will show that it is not the feminine itself, but rather, the human instinct toward sexual attraction, that “leads people into temptation.” Only when one is desexualized, living a life of faith and studiousness, can one be truly moral. This is shown in the character of Alma, and was also probably intended to reflect the famous virgin status of Elizabeth I, for whom the epic was written.



Woods, Susanne. “Spenser and the Problem of Women's Rule.” Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 48, no. 2, 1985, pp. 140–158., doi:10.2307/3817540. Women were required to be politically subservient during Elizabethan times, of course, so the reign of Elizabeth I posed a quandary which Spenser addressed in “The Faerie Queene.”

Although, as Woods notes, Elizabeth’s role was “considered a God-given exception,” Spenser suggests that “women are perfectly capable of power and authority by nature, and...skilled in learning and governance” (144). Discussing Book II as well as other books, Woods points to Belphoebe (who represents Elizabeth I) as a fully realized character who, although never central, “figures often and importantly” throughout the narrative (147). Because Spenser has dedicated his work to the queen, he must create a view of women that both reflects the patriarchal society and gives respect and praise to Elizabeth. Woods offers a look at how Spenser accomplishes this through ironic situations and multiple perspectives (156), suggesting that, more than simply being a sycophant to the queen, Spenser actually did see potential for women in authority (155-6).


Chiari, Sophie. “Climate as Climax in Shakespeare’s Plays.” Shakespeare in Southern Africa, vol. 29, no. 1, 2017, pp. 1-15.


Chiari asserts that A Midsummer Night’s Dream demonstrates the influence of weather and climate on human nature. In general, the author traces the ability of Shakespeare to respect the importance of climate in his many other works, but the one in question particularly shows how the plasticity of the fairyland affects the moods and actions of humans. Chiari explains that the Queen of Fairies symbolizes the disastrous side of nature, including fog, flooding, problems with crops, and pollution. Such a claim definitely adds to the overall understanding of the role of nature in the play because the monarchs of the forest are complicated characters, as they resemble humans but diverge from the social order that humans had developed. Chiari's views on the catastrophic climate help in the discussion of the difference between Athens and the forest, as well as inform the equality existing between Titania and Oberon because the queen does not assume the victim status.


Chouhan, Anjna. “‘The Usual Palm Tree’: Lovers in the Conservatory on the Late Victorian Stage.” Victorian Network, vol. 3, no. 2, 2011, pp. 78-94.


Chouhan acknowledges the duality of the Shakespearean world, in which people live through the journey of escaping to the pastoral and returning to the urban. The author states that the escape to the “golden world” of the fairyland allows characters to forget about social rules and learn from the dream-like experience to conduct the return home with new wisdom and strength. In other words, Chouhan suggests that the green environment of the forest serves as a place of confidence and perseverance for characters to learn how to withstand the pressures of their ordinary lives. This discussion is valuable to the research because of the role that the fairyland plays in the lives of characters escaping the city. Despite some nightmarish occurrences, characters learn from the fairyland and use this knowledge to transform. Chouhan recalls Darwin’s theory of natural selection to explore the role of nature as a setting for personal development.


Egan, Gabriel. “Gaia and the Great Chain of Being.” Ecocritical Shakespeare, edited by Lynne Dickson Bruckner and Daniel Brayton, Ashgate Publishing, 2011, pp. 57-69.


Egan discusses the macrocosm-microcosm school of thought that divides the beings into the larger order and the smaller order respectively. The theory posits that the microcosm repeats the dimensions and elements of the macrocosm, but there are differences in their existence. Egan insists that this view allows for exploring the complexity of life on the planet. Included in the book Ecocritical Shakespeare, this article does not cast a light on the play in question, but its stance on the importance of the distinction between the microcosm and the macrocosm is useful for the analysis of the work because the human city and the fairy forest have both similarities and distinctions, as noted in the theory of microcosm and macrocosm. Egan claims that, in the times of Shakespeare, humankind was elevated above other animals; therefore, such a claim gives rise to discussions whether humans descended or ascended in their development when they visited arguably the macrocosm of fairyland.


Hansen, Claire Gwendoline. “The Complexity of Dance in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Early Modern Literary Studies, vol. 18, no. 1&2, 2015, pp. 1-26.


Hansen employs the complexity theory to determine the development, interaction, and transformation of systems existent in a work of art. Specifically, the author takes an interest in dancing portrayed in the play because this activity can cause change and champion social order and chaos in an equal manner. Hanses insists that dancing has two roles, the one to demonstrate the ability of humans to cooperate congruently and the one to manifest the activity spiraling society out of control. The two states, social order and social disorder, are crucial for the exploration of the juxtaposition of the fairyland and Athens. Hansen further claims that A Midsummer Night’s Dream manages to combine two different movements to launch the process of transformation rather than a mere celebration of either chaos or order. This slant will be helpful to explore how changes in the macrocosm reflect changes in the microcosm.


Hossain, Mohammad Zakir. “Towards a Green World: An Islamic Perspective.” International Journal of Contemporary Research and Review, vol. 9, no. 08, 2018, pp. 20181-20193.


Hossain takes the approach of comparing ecological stances that belong to traditional and Islamic schools of thought while exemplifying the importance of ecocriticism through the play in question and other works. The author pays attention to modern affairs beyond the scope of interest of Shakespearean contemporaries, but such a modern look can be helpful in the interpretation of the play. The methodology of Hossain includes the concept of "green world," which the author considers not a place for escapism but rather a place that actually exists and that humans try to imitate. This argument definitely adds to the general narrative because many academics have viewed Shakespearean nature as a setting to which characters merely escape. The novelty of this interpretation creates additional possibilities to understand the interaction between the rural and the urban. Hossain elaborates that Shakespeare uses Athens to frame civilization, while the forest is a dream-like environment that characters embrace.


Kaldis, Byron. “The University as Microcosm.” Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol. 41, no. 5, 2009, pp. 553-574.


Although the article focuses on educational topics, it provides a strong foundation for the examination of the theory of macrocosm and microcosm. Kaldis argues that the macrocosm-microcosm isomorphism signifies that a human being, as a microcosm, reflects internally the extrinsic macrocosm. This information adds to the general knowledge about the theory employed in the long paper assignment. Kaldis asserts that microcosm is a miniature version of the universe, which allows for the analyses of the similarities between the fairyland and Athens. The isomorphism of these concepts is a significant feature that encourages the author to explore the theory. This quality provides a foundation for the discovery of isomorphism of the forest and the city, fairies and humans. Ultimately, Kaldis claims that the macrocosm synthesizes the microcosm, which also gives ideas for reflection about their interaction.


May, Theresa J. “Greening the Theater: Taking Ecocriticism from Page to Stage.” Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, vol. 7, no. 1, 2005, pp. 84-103.


May discusses the transformation of theatrical plays from written pieces to performances at the backdrop of rising ecological fears. Nature writing and landscape painting are crucial elements in the exploration of the green thought that had permeated dramaturgy. The author claims that the interest in ecocriticism ranges from modern pieces to the plays of early English literature, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream. May shows that theatrical works combine both metaphoric and physical worlds. This suggestion is similarly applicable to the differences between the civilization and the forest of the play. The author of the article implies the vagueness of the boundaries in plays that have prominent ecological themes, and this dimension also builds on the narrative of the opposition between social order and disorder traced in the play in question. May concludes that green dramaturgy of different eras encourages the audience to review boundaries between nature and culture.


Schumann, Angela. ““But as a Form in Wax”: An Ecofeminist Reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Colloquy: Text Theory Critique, vol. 30, 2015, pp. 42-60.


Although my paper does not take the ecofeminist perspective to dissect the social norms in Athens, Schumann’s ecofeminist article offers insights into the double oppression, the oppression of nature and the oppression of women in the play. The author claims that male characters exploit and control women and nature alike, as well as exhibit infantile and underdeveloped traits of character, while women are shown as more reasonable and mature than men. Schumann argues that the play challenges the traditional stance that men are superior and women are inferior. The author explains that traditional literature often views women and nature as both fruitful and passive, as well as provoking disasters, while men are deemed those who can mitigate the damages of those disasters controlling both nature and women. This view coincides with the one voiced by Chiari who also draws parallels between women and calamities in the representation of nature, but Chiari does not support the victim status of female characters in the play, which also contributes to the discourse and opposing views contained in it.


Spyra, Piotr. “Shakespeare and the Demonization of Fairies.” Text Matters, vol. 7, no. 7, 2017, pp. 194-213.


Spyra analyzes the work of Shakespeare from the perspective of anti-Catholic polemic affected by Protestantism to determine the playwright’s attitude to the religion and the demonization of fairies. The author demonstrates that Shakespeare was aware that fairies were demonized, which encouraged him to specify that Oberon and his servants have no fear of the morning because they are “spirits of another sort.” Moreover, the author argues that Shakespeare wanted to have his fairy characters be associated with goodness and the Catholic tradition because Oberon orders Puck to consecrate Athens with morning dew, which resembles Christian rituals with holy water. Such a compelling interpretation is useful to determine the role of the forest in the general view of faith. As many texts of early English literature pay attention to religion, this play is no exception, which can be helpful in the identification of similarities between the forest and Eden, despite the chaos that ensues in the former.


Sullivan Jr., Garrett A. “Recent Studies in Tudor and Stuart Drama.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 2013, pp. 441-494.


Sullivan uses historicism to look backward at the dramaturgy works of the past. Historicism assumes that events occur based on historical events. This stance informs the interpretation of different texts, including the play under scrutiny. Sullivan also relies on ecocriticism because it renders effective conclusions about the messages conveyed in popular plays of Tudor and Stuart times. Specifically, the author argues that A Midsummer Night’s Dream depicts a haunted paradise that reflects the yearning for the fallen world. This opinion aligns with Hossain’s suggestion that the forest is not merely a place to escape, but a place in which humans try to imitate the existence that used to be. The theme of the fallen paradise also coincides with the discussions of the role of God in nature and elaborates the role of the forest for humans as an environment where they connect with the forgotten virtue and with a supreme being


Burlinson, Christopher.  Allegory, Space and the Material World.  D. S. Brewer, 2006.  3-221.    




Over all, Burlinson’s work closely examines “the intersection of historical and theoretical versions of space and materiality” in Spenser’s Faerie Queene (Burlinson 6).  Burlinson argues that Spenser’s allegory is replete with references to and descriptions of material objects that in keeping with the nature of allegory, are frequently presented as fragments and thereby often resist readers’ efforts to draw from them a holistic and concrete picture of a sixteenth-century world.  Burlinson contends, however, that at select moments a fluid connection occurs between verbal depictions of objects making it possible not only to identify them in historical space, but to identify them as objects of production.  He attempts to explain how these objects are produced in both narrative space and in Spenser’s contemporary world, more specifically in Ireland.  My interest in this book lies in Burlinson’s method of grounding verbal images in materiality. It encouraged me to perceive depictions of nature as “nature in fact” in FQ Book II, and to investigate the implications this might have for nature’s relationship with art.



Cooney, Helen.  “Guyon and His Palmer:  Spenser’s Emblem of Temperance.”  The Review of

English Studies.  51.2002.   2000.  169-192.  JSTOR.


Cooney argues that Guyon, Spenser’s allegorical figure of temperance, can only be fully understood by studying him in reference to the Palmer, the figure of prudence.  She relies upon such early modern doctrines as taking due care (she contrasts this to Phaedria who is careless and Mammon who cares about the wrong things), the sin of curiosity (of others’ faults), the benefit of counsel, the role of guardian angels, etc. to illustrate the importance of the Palmer’s role—especially when he is absent from Guyon’s side.  Like other critics, she identifies a similarity in Guyon’s struggle to achieve prudence and the reader’s struggle to interpret Spenser’s text in a right (moral) manner.  Useful for an examination of art and nature in Book II of Spenser’s FQ is Cooney’s discussion of allegory as Spenser’s art form.  This may be helpful in addressing the dilemma created by Spenser’s stated moral intention for the poem and his own artistic ambitions.


Gless, Darryl J.  Interpretation and Theology in Spenser.  Cambridge UP, 1994.  1-25 and 175-181.  Print.


Harnessing reader response theory, Gless anticipates various ways readers might understand or interpret both Spenser’s poetry and “the theological doctrines which those works invoke” (Abstract).  Useful are Gless’s “survey of major doctrinal concepts” underlying Spenser’s works and the critic’s method of teaching one to read the poet’s works in light of these concepts (Abstract).  Although Gless centers his method on Book I of The Faerie Queene, he demonstrates how to apply it to additional Spenserian works as well. Useful for an examination of FQ II is Gless’s discussion of the on-going nature of the knight’s moral labor, his continual susceptibility to temptation, and his subsequent and perpetual need for grace and intervention.


Gregerson, Linda.  The Reformation of the Subject:  Spenser, Milton and the English Protestant               Epic.  Cambridge UP, 1995.  1-147.  Print.


Gregerson acknowledges that during the Reformation, verbal images were viewed with the same suspicion as visual images, in that they had the potential for being misread as idolatrous or even immoral, and could corrupt when they were meant to redeem.  She argues that both Milton and Spenser were cognizant of the constructed self, and thus their poems (FQ and Paradise Lost) provide numerous scenes which incite self-recognition in their readers and direct them to moral improvement.  Both poets encourage readers to engage in a type of hermeneutics, to see beyond the sign to transcendent meaning.  My interest lies in the first four chapters of this book as they apply to FQ.  Although Gregerson does not treat Book II of the poem, which is the focus of my paper, her book provides useful historical and interpretive information.      


------.  “Protestant Erotics:  Idolatry and Interpretation in Spenser’s Faerie Queene.”  ELH. 58.1.               1991.  1-34.  JSTOR.


Gregerson argues that in Book III of The Faerie Queene, Spenser demonstrates through allegorical depictions and visual imagery the moral danger of faulty exegesis and its potential for shaping or deforming one’s character.  In addition, Gregerson provides some historical background on early modern iconography and explains how both visual and verbal images shared the potential for being perceived as idolatrous.  Useful for a discussion of art and nature in Book II of FQ is Gregerson’s explanation for how early modern writers/creators of verbal imagery avoided having their work perceived as idolatrous.



Howe, Sarah.  “‘Pregnant Image of Life’:  Visual Art and Representation in Arcadia and The                   Faerie Queene.”  The Cambridge Quarterly.  34.1.  2005.  33-53.  JSTOR


Howe explains Sidney’s and Spenser’s attentiveness to creating exquisite works of visual imagery in their poetry, an attentiveness Howe links to Sidney’s use of the rhetorical figure of “enargeia, the conjuring of intense visual images in a reader’s mind” (34).  She pays particular attention in the poets’ work to “literary depictions of works of art” (34) and how these are related to the poets’ “hermeneutics of representation” (34).  I found persuasive Howe’s argument that Spenser’s verbal images demand that readers apply to them a type of Biblical hermeneutics, and that by doing so, they teach the reader not to value the “image” over its instructional or moral value.



Hyman, Wendy Beth.  “Seizing Flowers in Spenser’s Bower and Garden.”  English Literary

Renaissance.  37.2.  2007.  193-214.  JSTOR.


Hyman argues that the carpe florum lyric in Book II of The Faerie Queene plays an important role, one that is consistently overlooked by critics.  She declares that the lyric forms a link between the Book of Temperance and the Book of Chastity, and declares that the static natural environment of the Bower of Bliss renders Guyon’s destruction of both the bower and its erotic elements incomplete. At the same time, his act of destruction becomes an emblem of Guyon’s intemperance.  I am interested in this article for its excellent discussion of nature as an intentional construct (and thus as “art” perhaps) that is meant to deceive.  Hyman treats this topic briefly in an examination of the Phaedria/Cymochles episode and more extensively in a discussion of The Bower of Bliss.



Mallette, Richard.  Spenser and the Discourses of Reformation England.  U of Nebraska P, 1997.           

Print.  50-83.


Mallette argues that the Reformation was not solely about religious and spiritual beliefs but its discourses permeated all aspects of culture, including literature. Therefore, religion’s role in literature should not be ignored or relegated to mere source identification.  Mallette demonstrates religion’s role in literary discourse by examining how the Reformation is inscribed in Spenser’s Faerie Queene in various configurations.  Mallette covers Books I-VI of the FQ by focusing his attention on a particular discourse for each book (preaching, sermon parody, discourses of the flesh, continence, chastity, revenge, providence, etc.).  For the sake of my discussion on art and nature in Book II of The Faerie Queene, chapter two provides insight into the nature of temperance and Guyon’s active approach toward confronting and resisting temptation.



McCabe, Richard.  Chapter 6: “Sins of Difference.” Spenser’s Monstrous Regiment: Elizabethan Ireland and the Poetics of Difference.  Oxford U P, 2002.  121-141.  Print.  


McCabe acknowledges that The Faerie Queene is replete with allusions, analogies, and comparisons with Ireland, most of which have been noted by recent scholarship, but he points out that Gaelic Ireland has been largely ignored. He seeks to reengage Gaelic culture by seeking to understand Spenser’s experience with Irish colonialism through Gaelic literature and poetry. Students of Spenser and eco-criticism might find chapter 6:  Sins of Difference especially interesting. Here, McCabe explains Ireland’s importance to Elizabethan colonialism and how the country’s topography or climate was sometimes thought to be linked to the moral character of its people, all being deemed intemperate.  He declares that the natural landscape itself in the Bower of Bliss poses a moral danger to those who travel there.



Zajac, Paul Joseph.  “Reading Through the Fog:  Perception, the Passions, and Poetry in   Spenser’s Bower of Bliss.”  English Literary Renaissance. 43.2.  2013.  211-238.              


Zajac attempts to demonstrate how fog imagery and descriptions of the Bower of Bliss in Book II of The Faerie Queene elicit a comparison between themselves and Spenser’s allegorical poetry.  He argues that while “Acrasian aesthetics of befogment” inform most of Book II, they are actually set in opposition to Spenser’s “own poetic techniques” which present “moral truths ‘clowdily enwrapped in Allegoricall deuices’ (Letter to Raleigh l.23)” but which, Zajac contends, prove to be more “stable” and “virtuous” (Zajac 212). While Zajac provides numerous early modern examples of fog imagery in his essay, he appears to flounder while attempting to apply this imagery throughout II.xii.  Useful however, are his discussions of emotional ecology and the relationship between art and nature in the Bower of Bliss. 



Ascoli, Albert Russell. “Wrestling with Orlando: Chivalric Pastoral in Shakespeare's

Arden.” Renaissance Drama, 36/37, 2010, pp. 293–317.  


Albert Russell Ascoli looks at the relationship between two literary modes in early modern literature: pastoral and chivalric romance. He claims their relationship was troubled, to say the least. He utilizes the wrestling scene as an amalgamation of the two modes, especially in how Rosalind connects Orlando to that of Hercules. He also claims that the chivalric romance is distorted through the filter of pastoral, and thinks Touchstone is the central figure in which “chivalry, bounded on one side by the new world of the centralized court and on the other side by pastoral fantasies, is explicitly made a subject of discourse” in the play.


Barnaby, Andrew. “The Political Conscious of Shakespeare's As You like It.” Studies in English

Literature, 1500-1900, vol. 36, no. 2, 1996, pp. 373–395.  


Andrew Barnaby takes aim at the effects of writing itself, especially on modern readers reading Shakespeare, or other early modern works of literature. Barnaby sees the play as historically relevant because “it can be read as a rhetorical act in which one writer’s sense of things as part of history becomes available to his readers in the purposeful design of the play.” He claims that we must view fictional forms as signifying historical realities as well as constituting its own realities. Therefore, he is looking at the play in ethical terms. He claims the play is interested in the complex relationship between aristocratic culture and the broader workings of political society. By engaging with the pastoral genre, Barnaby claims that Shakespeare was less concerned with celebrating nobles as virtuous, and more concerned with “reexamining the precise nature of aristocratic virtue.”


Bennett, Robert B. “The Reform of a Malcontent: Jacques and the Meaning of As You Like It.”

Shakespeare Studies, vol. 9, Jan. 1976, pp. 183-202.

Robert B. Bennett argues that Shakespeare’s portrayal of Jacques is one of the earliest significant studies in Elizabethan drama of the malcontent. He believes that in Jacques, there lies the unfulfilled potential for greatness, that he is effective as both a thinker and doer. He also claims that Jacques is Elizabethan drama’s only fully conceived comic malcontent, due to disparities within his actions and his rhetoric; for example, in his grief over the deer and his Seven Ages speech. By the end of the play, Bennett argues that there is true change for Jacques, from an intellectual poser into a true intellectual: “His departure is not absurd, as his former poses of unsociability had seemed, but is fitting and calls for reluctant acceptance, not censure, from those who like his company but respect his choice.”


Cirillo, Albert R. “As You Like It: Pastoralism Gone Awry.” ELH, vol. 38, no. 1, 1971, pp. 19–


Albert R. Cirillo examines the pastoral genre in order to make the argument that Shakespeare utilizes the Forest of Arden as a convention, or as an ideal image which isn’t necessarily an end in itself, but a template for how society should act. He goes on to argue that the only reconciliation between the ideal world of the Forest and the real world of society is within the individual, their attitude toward life and their outlook. His definition of the real world is the fusion of Arden with the court, for one cannot be without the other, they are dependent on each other. He focuses mostly on Rosalind and her agency within the play, and claims that no one can live in the Forest, yet there is no mention of Jacques in this article, which is something I may be able to argue his points with.


Daley, A. Stuart. “The Dispraise of the Country In ‘As You Like It.’” Shakespeare Quarterly,

vol. 36, no. 3, 1985, pp. 300–314.  

Stuart Daley argues that Court and Country are not set up as “dual worlds” within the play, that seeing each as an antithesis to the other has no relevance to the work as a whole. He claims that the experiences character’s face within the forest are overwhelmingly unpleasurable, and that the forests importance only lies within the people that come into it. The representation of the forest is actually philosophically driven to promote a better world, one that can only be realized and actualized once characters undergo the harsh realities within the forest. The city is never mentioned when they are in the forest, and Daley believes this is very important. He also argues that the forest, by the continual use of the word “desert,” is a metaphor for the fallen world. He ends with an examination of Jacques and Touchstone, saying they are the images of “man’s base natural conditions.”


Farrar, Ryan. “As You Like It: The Thin Line Between Legitimate Utopia and Compensatory

Vacation.” Utopian Studies, vol. 25, no. 2, 2014, pp. 359–383.  

Ryan Farrar argues that Shakespeare dramatizes the utopian imagination during the Elizabethan era through conflicts between character’s and their attitudes in As You Like It. He begins by explaining the concept of utopia and its paradox, mainly that it is impossible to imagine a utopia without first absorbing features of the present society, which isn’t a utopia. The Forest of Arden is utilized as a utopian canvas, where character’s realism blends with the forests’ utopian qualities, which in turn complicates the relationship found between man, nature and society. Farrar mostly sees the representation of utopia in the play as confusing and unattainable: “The conflict between the court’s attitude and the behavior of its members in As You Like It characterizes utopia as a semiotic operation that is complex and ambiguous in its practice. Farrar concludes by saying genuine connection between people may be the only possibility of creating a utopian society.


Fitting, Peter. “A Short History of Utopian Studies.” Science Fiction Studies, vol. 36, no. 1,

2009, pp. 121–131. 

Peter Fitting examines the role Utopian studies has within literature, and specifies it as a genre that was increasingly utilized well into the twentieth century. However, he also looks at how earlier constructions of Utopia were created as early as Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. He puts forth a few definitions of Utopia within literature, and the one that matches As You Like It the closest is a critical utopia, where a non-existent society is given in considerable detail, but also has its own difficulties, therefore taking a critical view of the utopian genre. And this, I think, aligns with critical views of the pastoral genre taken up by some of my other sources. Finally, Fitting talks about Frederic Jameson, how he saw utopian literature as not trying to be a template for a better society, but just a way to make us more “aware of our mental and ideological imprisonment,” which is something I think Jacques does pretty well.


Gowland, Angus. “The Problem of Early Modern Melancholy.” Past & Present, no. 191, 2006,

pp. 77–120.

Angus Gowland claims that, while the subject of melancholy was an important area of study in sixteenth century texts, our understanding of its religious, social and political meanings remains limited. Gowland uses early modern medical and religious texts and concludes that a variety of social factors such as spiritual and intellectual malaise, economic depression, and the threat of Spanish invasion heavily influenced English melancholy. He makes it clear that melancholy does not equal depression. He also argues that the symptoms related to melancholy were most associated with the mental faculties of imagination. He uses As You Like it as an example to show how the excessive emotions associated with melancholy were deemed potentially vicious, therefore any remedy would include moral or spiritual self-discipline. Does this self-discipline happen to Jacques? Any other character?



Shaw, John. “Fortune and Nature in As You Like It.” Shakespeare Quarterly, vol. 6, no. 1, 1955,

pp. 45–50.

John Shaw argues that the conflict between Nature and Fortune form an important pattern throughout the play, affecting both character and plot. Most, if not all characters are defined by their Nature and their Fortune, and the strife between the two. These characters, he argues, can be described, once they are in the forest, as Nature combatting against Fortune. This idea is heavily emphasized by the setting of the forest. He also claims that Jacques sometimes reminds us of the Nature-Fortune conflict, and argues that Jacques is ultimately malcontent because he fails to understand himself. By the play’s end, Fortune has been thoroughly mocked and once again bestowed upon those most deserving.


Zajac, Paul Joseph. “The Politics of Contentment: Passions, Pastoral, and Community in

Shakespeare's ‘As You Like It.’” Studies in Philology, vol. 113, no. 2, 2016, pp. 306–


Zajac argues that in As You Like It, Shakespeare engages with the early modern concept of “contentment” in order to rethink the prevailing political order. In the play, three forms of contentment are introduced and studied: individual, interpersonal and political. First, Zajac draws on historical contexts in order to analyze the play. Then, he looks at how contentment is represented by Duke Senior, Rosalind and Jacques. His argument is that Shakespeare doesn’t “rhapsodize contentment, community, or pastoral, but he does explore the merits of each for his artistic engagements with the political theories and realities of Renaissance England.” He goes on to argue that the pastoral communities of Arden are founded by collective rather than individual contentment. He concludes by stating that the audience is finally brought together into a communal contentment by play’s end.






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