The Method of Spenser's Stanza

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Abstract

"The Method of Spenser's Stanza" proposes the analogy of method—in its late sixteenth-century sense, particularly as associated with Ramus—as a way of understanding how Spenser's stanza works. That stanza's two most distinctive moments, the medial couplet and its final alexandrine, have the normative (if by no means inevitable) effects of a second diought in the middest and a summary of sententious closure. It is a shape imposed on experience in order to yield, time after time, a particular form of thought, a particular kind of lesson. In this it is like the dream of a universal method which can be applied in order to give the same intelligibility to diverse materials (e.g., the tendency of Ramist analysis to reduce texts to a single "dialectical ratiocination"). Arthur's advice to Una after the defeat of Orgoglio ("Dear lady, then said that victorious knight [I.viii.44]) makes the principal example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalSpenser Studies
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory

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