A Poetics of Emotion: Sidney, Spenser, and the Poetry of Thoughtful Movement

Tuggle, Bradley Davin, Department of English, University of Virginia
Nohrnberg, James, Department of English, University of Virginia
Fowler, Elizabeth, Department of English, University of Virginia
Kinney, Clare, Department of English, University of Virginia

"A Poetics of Emotion: Sidney, Spenser, and the Poetry of Thoughtful Movement" argues that poets in late sixteenth-century England demonstrated the efficacy of their poems in the ethical and intellectual lives of their readers by conceptualizing those poems in terms of the thinking and moving of their readers. Chapter 1 explores a novel interpretation of Philip Sidney's Defence of Poetry that links that treatise's emphasis on the moving powers of poetry with the equine references throughout, both of these emphases suggesting interesting engagements with and revisions of Horatian poetics. But this melding of ideas into new concepts means also that poets need new words. Chapter 2 shows how Spenser's coinage of emmove gives further evidence for a changing sense of what we now call emotion, a word initially unavailable to sixteenthcentury English writers. The project then moves to show how these new ideas might inform interpretations of Spenser's The Faerie Queene, particularly the character of Britomart and the House of Busirane in Book III. I thus give a detailed reading of III.xixii, showing how the poem, by borrowing the cultural resonance of the Temple of Solomon and the aesthetic theories of Bernard of Clairvaux, provides a ductus for readers to move through. The spatial, rhetorical arrangement of Spenser's fictional house encourages readers to ponder some complex intellectual problems. In Chapter 3, I show how two intellectual problems, the problem of the different dimensionalities of representation, and the problem of distinguishing the real world from the fictional one while simultaneously allowing the fictional to impinge upon the real, may be profitably iii contemplated through one's reading of the episode. Thus, I both theorize and show a good example of thought and movement at a key point in the development of English poetics.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
poetics of emotion, sixteenth-century England
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