Andrew Wadoski
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Purposeful lives
Romance narrative and the generation of empires
in Spenser’s ethics
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The complicated category of the imperfectible human navigating the mutable world is the pivotal object of speculation in Spenserian ethics, examining how Spenser sets out to discover the moral possibilities of his agents’ boundedness in temporality, worldly change, and transformation. Here we see accounts of the mutable body itself as site of procreant expansion, and thus as a microcosm and animating engine of empire building. Linking Spenser’s romance narrative structures to the formal patterns of colonialist expansion mapped out in Sir Thomas Smith’s 1572 pamphlet written in promotion of the Ulster plantation, Chapter 2 argues that Spenser renders a wholesale reorientation of received Aristotelian ways of thinking about meaning-making aims and of the orienting purpose of a human life away from self-perfecting character-making and towards the articulation of collective, and expansive, political agendas.

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Spenser’s ethics

Empire, mutability, and moral philosophy in early modernity


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