Spenserian Deformance: Editing the ‘Laye of Fayre Elisa’
Professor Joseph Loewenstein, Washington University in St Louis
The Lawson Lecture Room, Kennedy Hall
While this paper contributes to political commentary on The Shepheardes Calender, its chief concern is what editorial activity – in 1579 and 2018 – can contribute to such commentary.
Beginning with observations on the collaborative character of Spenser’s literary career, the paper fastens on the contributions of the book’s editor-commentator, E.K. The central object of scrutiny is the encomium embedded in the ‘Aprill’ eclogue, ‘The Laye of Fayre Elisa,’ the poem that initiates Spenser’s career both as an Elizabethan mythologist and as a Leicesterian critic of Elizabethan policy. Colluding with E.K., I propose what Jerome McGann would call a ‘deformance’ of this poem, and invite us to read an even bolder poem over the shoulder of the Calender’s first editor.