This Literature/Elective course is taught by Dr. Anthony Cirilla, and will run from January 11 through March 20. The syllabus is available here.
In the last chapter of The Allegory of Love, C.S. Lewis wrote that on the subject of courtly love “Spenser is not so much part of my subject as one of my masters or collaborators.” Later on he writes, “He makes imaginable inner realities so vast and simple that they ordinarily escape us as the largely printed names of continents escape us on the map… To read him is to grow in mental health.” Partly medieval-inspired allegory, partly Arthurian-inspired romance, filled with allusions to Greco-Roman and Italian epic, Spenser’s Faerie Queene is one of the first great Protestant epics that influenced John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, John Milton’s Paradise Lost, Tolkien’s conception of Elves and Faerie and, of course, C.S. Lewis’s entire corpus (including The Chronicles of Narnia and The Space Trilogy).
In this course, we will read Spenser’s Letter to Walter Raleigh where he defined his purpose in writing The Faerie Queene, as well as two major influences: Chaucer’s “Knight’s Tale” and “The Tale of Sir Thopas,” as well as the anonymous Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. We will then read in great detail Book One of The Faerie Queene which relays the tale of the Redcrosse Knight and his battle with a fiendish dragon. Spenser himself identified the biblical core of his allegorical adventure as Ephesians, which will serve as the touchstone for our approach to the poem’s interpretation. We will explore how Spenser’s Protestant, and specifically Anglican and Reformed, spirituality finds edifying and beautiful expression in his chivalric allegory.
Online only, runs 10 weeks, meeting 2 hrs./wk. via videoconference + online discussion board. Register to reserve your spot and schedule will be set after a poll of participating students; if the class time does not fit your schedule, you will be eligible for a full refund. Note: all classes are offered dependent on demand and require a minimum of four participating students. This is a graduate-level seminar. Although a Bachelor’s degree is not a necessary pre-requisite for this course, students should come prepared to do graduate-level work.