Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study explores the representations of the body in Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene and several other early modern texts. It takes as its premise the Foucauldian notion that the body, born into culture, is never entirely present in itself, but that it is actively produced in discourse; the body is not simply the object on which power operates but the result of a negotiation of its fashionings. The apparent naturalness of bodily presence is used in discursive practice for its authority, and constructions of the body lend formative force to ideological and political ideas and organizations. The regulation of the body that is culture can be perpetuated, resisted, and/or negotiated through the representation of the body. These dimensions and potentialities form the focus of this study.;In an attempt to suggest the cultural embeddedness of Spenser's representations of the body, I employ some of the practices of the new historicisms and cultural materialisms; I have incorporated a variety of other early modern discursive material and have read this material against The Faerie Queene. This study contains four chapters, each of which examines a different kind of bodying forth. The first chapter explores, through the cave of Mammon episode, the sometimes conflictual meeting of the discourse of mining with the discourse of anatomy, and probes the debate between Mammonic mercantilism and pastoral nostalgia that takes place over the body of the earth. My second chapter, a reading of the lower region of the house of Alma, is concerned with the constitutive linkage between the excremental production of the lower bodily stratum and those bodies constructed as 'low' in the social order. The penultimate chapter concerns the discursive production of subjectivity, and explores class and gender absolutes as they are produced on and about three Spenserian bodies: Braggadocchio, Mirabella, and Duessa. The final chapter considers bodies designated as monstrous, particularly the giant Argante, and examines the deployment of narratives of sibling incest as they contribute to this designation. The representations of the body in The Faerie Queene and other early modern texts perform political and ideological work.



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