Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Lisa M. Zeitz

Second Advisor

Peter Auksi

Third Advisor

James Purkis


Animals appear in every canto of every book of The Faerie Queene. This dissertation seeks to accentuate the strangeness of Spenser’s animals as well as to counter it. By placing Spenser’s epic in dialogue with early modem natural history, with which it shares a constant didacticism, I argue that the strangeness of his animals must first be recognized and then remedied by learning what was “meant” by those animals in the culture Spenser inhabited and helped make. Chapter One proposes ways in which Spenser, inhabiting a particular cultural time, place, and position, could have learned natural history as part of his formal education. Chapter Two argues for the centrality of exemplary symbolism in the presiding attitudes towards animals held during Spenser’s lifetime and how the practices and products of natural history embody these attitudes. Chapters Three and Four engage directly with two representative animals from Spenser’s poem, the lion and the crocodile, showing that animals are not merely imaginative conveniences but instead are complex, culturally encoded signifiers. The thesis also includes an appended compendium of all the animals of The Faerie Queene.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.