Postcolonial Spenser

Andrew Hadfield

in The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199227365
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Postcolonial Spenser

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



This article focuses on postcolonial criticism of Spenser. Spenser occupies a particular position as an especially wicked writer, because he, more than any of his illustrious contemporaries, actually was a colonist. His canon inspires a peculiar bewilderment which has led to an ambiguous, often confused attitude to his work and legacy. On the one hand, Spenser's work reflects an ideological hegemony that has developed from the need to justify the English presence in Ireland, something that has become ‘ingrained’ as part of the grubby intellectual furniture. On the other, Spenser can be seen as the originator of a discourse, a preeminent English poet whose writings were read and recycled and whose attitudes helped to expedite centuries of colonial rule in Ireland.

Keywords: postcolonial criticism; England; Ireland; English poet; colonial rule

Article.  7016 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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