Bitter memories in Spenser’s View

Ivic, C (2015) Bitter memories in Spenser’s View. In: Fifth International Spenser Society Conference, 18-20 June, 2015, Dublin Castle, Ireland.

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Benedict Anderson has drawn attention to the signal role that remembering/forgetting performs in the origin and spread of nationalism. A prime example, for Anderson, is the need to forget ‘ancient’ fratricidal wars—between, say, thirteen-century Frenchmen or nineteenth-century Americans—in order to create a strong unifying bond among, say, nineteenth-century Frenchmen or twentieth-century Americans. Anderson’s reflections on nationalism can inform our readings of select early modern texts: Shakespeare’s history plays, with their tales of ‘civil butchery’, come to mind. But Anderson’s model offers little to readers of Spenser’s View. A host of literary historians—Richard Helgerson, Andrew Hadfield, Willy Maley, Vince Carey, Thomas Herron, Andrew Escobedo—have examined Spenser’s contribution to the construction of nationalist discourse in the early modern period. Memory’s place—not just cultural or social memory but mnemonic culture—within this discourse has yet to be fully explored. Spenser’s View is an invaluable text because it posits an alternative, less upbeat, model of the nation as an imagined, fraternal community. Spenser’s prose dialogue forges a collective identity out of shared hatred and, most importantly, bitter, traumatic, and vivid memories of past bloodshed and violence. This paper will explore the various ways in which Spenser’s View appropriates the past not in order to forget past violence but rather in order to remember, indeed memorialise, it.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2015 11:30
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2022 15:45
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