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Elizabeth Fowler

held forth by the Platonic Socrates in his trenchant criticism of sophistic rhetoric, and in his description of a philosophical rhetoric grounded upon true knowledge and always striving for justice. 1 Literary forms are fully social forms and invite an assessment that is both ethical and political. Despite much

in Shakespeare and Scotland
Karen Nelson

figures of their counterparts writing more dogmatic tracts. 6 In order to show some of the ways Shakespeare and Spenser manipulate these debates in two works that are more traditionally appreciated for their playfulness with poetic form and for their ability to entertain, I will first outline quickly some of the reasons that pastoral poetics were available to reflect controversies concerning

in Shakespeare and Spenser
Tanya Pollard

I N THE LATE SIXTEENTH century, as theatrical performances took on new prominence in English schools and universities, and expanded into the new spaces of commercial playhouses, playwrights began to write in new dramatic forms. In particular, the classical dramatic genres of tragedy and comedy quickly became staples of the theatre

in Formal matters
Shakespeare’s Counter-Spenserian Authorship
Patrick Cheney

years, however, critics have been forming ‘a concerted back-lash against the long-standing certainty that Shakespeare is primarily defined by his role in the theatre’. 8 The most important book has been by Lukas Erne, who in 2003 classified Shakespeare as a ‘literary dramatist’, arguing that this author shows ‘a fair amount of artistic ambition and self

in Shakespeare and Spenser
Alan Stewart

of the great English hero. This sets the scene for the contrasted portrayal that is to come of his son and heir, Henry VI. But, as this chapter argues, Shakespeare is also playing with the forms with which this telescoping is achieved: the forms of news. All three messengers come with news from France. Shakespeare’s play thus echoes a current preoccupation of the

in Formal matters
Author: John Drakakis

A substantial rethinking of the field of Shakespeare’s ‘sources’ that re-evaluates the vocabulary initiated by Geoffrey Bullough in his monumental Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare. Beginning with a revaluation of Bullough, the book addresses issues such as the nature of con-text, influence versus confluence, intertextuality and the ways in which the term has been interpreted, and the manner in which Shakespeare returned to and developed earlier motifs, situations, memes and dramatic forms. This approach raises questions of how Shakespeare read, what was available to him and how this material may have circulated and filtered into the theatre; it also considers the ways in which a study of the materials available to the practising dramatist can be considered a vital part of theatrical activity, and something wholly different from what used to be regarded from the point of view of scholarly investigation as a relatively uninteresting activity.

The Art of The Faerie Queene is the first book centrally focused on the forms and poetic techniques employed by Spenser. Though much scholarly attention in recent years has been on the relationships between Spenser’s poetry and political and colonial history, the place of his epic in literary history has received less attention. This book aims to rectify that by re-reading The Faerie Queene as poetry which is at once absorbing, demanding, and experimental. The Spenser explored here ingeniously uses the tricks of his poetic style to amplify his symbolic agendas and to deepen the reading experience.

One of the book’s particular originalities is the way in which it reframes Spenser’s place in literary history. As opposed to the stylistic conservatism diagnosed by previous generations of scholars, The Art of The Faerie Queene presents the poem as more radical, more edgy, and less conventional, particularly as it appeared to Spenser’s first readers. As such, the book proposes new ways of understanding the Elizabethan poetic Renaissance and the ways in which Spenser is best understood in terms of literary history.

The book progresses from the choice of individual words through to questions of metre, rhyme, and stanza form up to the larger structures of canto, book, and the incomplete yet massive poem itself. It will be of particular relevance to undergraduates studying Elizabethan poetry, graduate students, and scholars of Renaissance poetry, for whom the formal aspect of the poetry has been a topic of growing relevance.

Abstract only
Reading the materials of English Renaissance literature

Formal Matters is intended as an exploration of the emerging and potential links in early modern literary and cultural studies between the study of material texts on the one hand, and the analysis of literary form on the other. The essays exemplify some of the ways in which an attention to the matter of writing now combines in critical practice with the questioning of its forms: how an interest in forms might combine with an interest in the material text and, more broadly, in matter and things material. Section I, ‘Forming literature’, makes literary and sub-literary forms its focus, examining notions of authorship; ways of reading, consuming, and circulating literary and non-literary material; and modes of creative production and composition made possible by the exigencies of specific forms. Section III, ‘The matters of writing’, examines forms of writing, both literary and non-literary, that grapple with other fields of knowledge, including legal discourse, foreign news and intelligence, geometry, and theology. At stake for the authors in this section is the interface between discourses encoded in, and even produced through, specific textual forms.Linking these two sections are a pair of essays take up the subject of translation, both as a process that transforms textual matter from one formal and linguistic mode to another and as a theorization of the mediation between specific forms, materials, and cultures.

Spenser and Shakespeare

Thirteen writers have comprehensively explained the Renaissance scheme of physiology-psychology used for nosce teipsum, to ‘know oneself’, and other scholars have analysed key features like humours, bodily spirits, passions, reason, inner wits, soul and spirit, mystic apprehension. Only poets with epic scope, like Spenser and Shakespeare, depict human nature holistically, yet these finest poets have radically distinct psychologies. Spenser’s Christianised Platonism prioritises the soul, his art mirroring divine Creation as dogmatically and encyclopedically conceived. He looks to the past, collating classical and medieval authorities in memory-devices like the figurative house, nobly ordered in triadic mystic numerical hierarchy to reform the ruins of time. Shakespeare’s sophisticated Aristoteleanism prioritises the body, highlighting physical processes and dynamic feelings of immediate experience, and subjecting them to intense, skeptical consciousness. He points to the future, using the witty ironies of popular stage productions to test and deconstruct prior authority, opening the unconscious to psychoanalysis. This polarity of psychologies is radical and profound, resembling the complementary theories of physics, structuring reality either (like Spenser) in the neatly-contained form of particle theory, or (like Shakespeare) in the rhythmic cycles of wave theory. How do we explain these distinct concepts, and how are they related? These poets’ contrary artistry appears in strikingly different versions of a ‘fairy queen’, of humour-based passions (notably the primal passion of self-love), of intellection (divergent modes of temptation and of moral resolution), of immortal soul and spirit, of holistic plot design, and of readiness for final judgment.

Theatre, form, meme and reciprocity
John Drakakis

Shakespeare’s resources were available to him in a number of forms within two broader categories: historical, through compilations such as Holinshed’s Chronicles ; and classical/historical from writers such as Plutarch (in North’s translation) or Suetonius, and of course Livy, and through various translations of Greek and Latin drama. 1 In the case of classical/historical writers, the fascination for the late sixteenth century was that the histories they produced traversed the entire gamut of political

in Shakespeare’s resources