Edmund Spenser and the romance of space

Author: Tamsin Badcoe

This book offers a new approach to engaging with the representation and aesthetics of provisional knowledge in Edmund Spenser’s writing via a focus on his use of spatial images. The study takes advantage of recent interdisciplinary interests in the spatial qualities of early modern thought and culture, and considers literature concerning the art of cosmography and navigation alongside imaginative literature in order to identify shared modes and preoccupations. The book looks to the work of cultural and historical geographers in order to gauge the roles that aesthetic subjectivity and the imagination play in the development of geographical knowledge – contexts ultimately employed by the study to achieve a better understanding of the place of Ireland in Spenser’s writing. The study also engages with recent ecocritical approaches to literary environments, such as coastlines, wetlands, and islands, in order to frame fresh readings of Spenser’s handling of mixed genres.

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‘In this fascinating, interdisciplinary study Tamsin Badcoe reads Spenser’s works alongside the practical arts of cosmography and navigation and considers the poet’s green, muddy and coastal settings in relation to the imagined spaces of William Cuningham, John Dee and Sir Walter Ralegh. By bringing together literary, cultural and historical geographers she explores how the imagination contributes to early modern developments in geographical knowledge. [The book] contributes vitally to the knowledge of early modern literatures and environments ... This complex, highly nuanced analysis of literary and geographical works by Spenser and other makers of the spatial imaginary offers new, compelling readings of The Faerie Queene, ‘Colin Clouts Come Home Againe’, A View of the Present State of Ireland, and the ‘Mutabilitie Cantos’.... Badcoe’s brilliant inquiry, which charts the labyrinthine course of literary and geographical terrain and plumbs the depths of the English and Irish seas with literal and figurative navigational tools, is well worth a careful read.’
Jennifer C. Vaught, The Spenser Review
July 2020

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