Guidelines: Spenser Paper
** Due Date: Thursday, April 10, by classtime (10:50 am)


The point of this paper is to read one passage of Book I of The Faerie Queene closely and to demonstrate connections between that passage and its larger context, that is, the rest of Book I.

Choose a passage from FQ, Book I, that you like, that has resonance for you, and that seems to connect with other parts of Book I.  You may write on your text-presentation passage, but you don’t have to. There is no set length for such a passage, though I assume most people will focus first on an episode (e.g., Errour episode, Archimago’s tricking of Redcrosse in cantos 1 & 2, Fradubio’s story, Lucifera’s castle, etc.) and narrow further once “in” the episode (tip: a set of 5-7 stanzas works best).

Read your passage closely, making a note of the aspects that seem significant to you in the following ways: characterization (what does your passage reveal about the key characters?), language (how do linguistic devices enhance narrative, character, and/or theme?), themes or issues (what does your passage say of truth and deceit, of innocence and inexperience, of rashness and caution, of faith and despair, etc.), genre (as applicable), and form (any noteworthy uses of the Spenserian stanza?). From this, extract the "good stuff” for your paper.

Please note that I will be available in addition for conferences Monday—Thursday, March 31—April 3, as well as Monday—Wednesday, April 7—9, during office hours and by appt. If you want a conference with me about your passage, come to the conference with the following:

1) a copy of the passage you have chosen
2) a brain-storm list in outline form of the details of the passage that you might “write up” if to write about this passage were your only assignment
3) a tentative thesis—that is, your “take,” or “spin” on the passage

It is not a good idea to have a conference by e-mail, but I can address “little” issues that way.

Turning the Outline into a Paper:

Once you have done a close reading of your passage and chosen the main lines you want to discuss, you have the rough data for about 2/3 of the middle part of your paper.  The other 1/3 comes from the connections, or links, to the rest of Book I.  In outline form, then, your paper will look something like this:

Introduction (this will include the poem-wide narrative context of your passage, a narrative transition to the passage itself, and a thesis that is grounded in your passage; the thesis will also point to the connections you wish to make between the passage and the whole of Book I as well as provide the “spin” of your argument. Make sure you name the poem and its poet early in the introductory paragraph. Specify your passage in the introduction.

Section 1 of the paper: this will be a presentation of the important aspects of your passage; it will turn your close reading into paragraphs.  It may take 3, 4 or 5 ¶s, depending on the length, internal logic, and complexity of the passage you choose.

Section 2 of the paper: this will be a presentation of the links to the rest of the poem; I recommend limiting yourself to two links; this section, therefore, will probably be 2 ¶s long (one ¶ per link).

Conclusion: this ¶ should address the “so what” question: so what that your passage is significant?  so what that it connects with other elements of Book I? what does your reader gain (learn) from perceiving your spin on this passage and its connections to Book I???

Additional considerations:

Turn in with your paper a xeroxed copy of the passage that is the focus of your essay.

1. a thesis: the thesis should arise from the passage; the thesis is the point you want to argue (the “spin” on the subject); it should also take into account the links you want to make outside the passage.

2. a title: an all-purpose title for this paper would be “Such-and-Such Episode and its Connections to Significant Aspects of Book I, The Faerie Queene.”  A specific one might be “Fradubio Sees her First: the Nether Parts of Evil in Book I, The Faerie Queene.”

3. Spell the name of the poem (The Faerie Queene) and poet (Edmund Spenser) correctly.  Spell characters’ names as they are spelled in the text.  “Despaire” is a character; “despair” is a state of mind.

4. Indicate your place in the text by in-text citations (you will remember that these are tucked into your sentences, before closing punctuation; don’t hang them in outer space between sentences). Since you will specify that you are discussing Book I of The Faerie Queene in the introduction, you will not need to specify poem and book with each quote.  Therefore, your citations will look like this (ii.41.8).  FYI: ii = canto 2, 41.8= stanza 41, 8th line in the stanza. 

5. On quoting poetry: the general rule is that fewer than two lines are worked into your own sentence: as in this example sentence (note the slash that marks a line break): Redcrosse, having fled the House of Pride, has not fled from his poor judgment that “Una his deare dreed/ Her truth had staind with treason so unkind” (vi.2.3-4).  Two or more lines of quotation are rendered in a block quote, mimicking the line breaks provided in the text:

Yet sad he was that his too hastie speed
  The faire Duess’ had forst him leave behind;
  And yet more sad, that Una his deare dreed
  Her truth had staind with treason so unkind ….

However, do not just drop chunks of text into your paper; when you use block quotes, go back into them for words and phrases that you then analyze and discuss.

6. Double-space your essay; single-space block quotes.

7. This paper is not a research paper (I am specifically asking not to do research; no googling; read the poem; everything you need is there, in the interaction between your brain and Spenser’s poem).  The paper is a discussion of features that arise from your text passage.  It is your argument; therefore, feel free to use the first person (how can any of us know what “readers” see or think?).  The paper is an opportunity for you to address an aspect of the poem that we have not been able to address in any detail in class or address to your satisfaction.  I will be looking primarily at the clarity of your thesis, the strategies you use to argue that thesis, and the evidence that you assemble.  I will not be concerned primarily with whether I agree with your thesis; nonetheless, it is always nice to be persuaded to your point of view.

8. The paper is due on April 10.  It should be approximately 8 pp. long (3000 words). Bring it  to class.  If you have an emergency the day the paper is due, follow the emergency submission procedures on the syllabus. Any paper turned in late will receive one letter grade lower (late = 10 April, 12:06 pm).


Sample Outline:

Intro: name of poem; name of poet; poem-wide narrative context for my passage, which is xii. 5-11; thesis (sample thesis: In canto 12, after Redcrosse has slain the dragon that has terrorized Una’s parents, all of the people pour out of the castle to celebrate their freedom and to gaze in awe at the dead beast.  To convey the nature of this festive experience, Spenser uses aspects of ancient Greek ritual as well as contemporary English folklore.  By this use, he connects the celebration of the dragon slaying to other triumphal moments in Book I, specifically the rescue of Una by the satyrs in canto 6 and Redcrosse’s defeat of the dragon Errour. (do you “see” my umbrella concept for the links???)

Section I: this is a discussion of the text passage
¶: stanzas 5 & 7: the procession, its hierarchy, its adornments (laurel branches, garlands, music, etc)
¶: stanzas 6 & 8: the inclusion of RC and Una in the celebration
¶: stanzas 9-10-11: the behavior of the “raskall many”--creating a narrative of “their role,” generating legends about the moment of the dragon’s defeat; focus on one mother and her gossips

Section II: this is a discussion of motifs or passages outside my passage that illuminate my passage in some way
  ¶: the satyrs rescue Una (6.13-16)——connect the procession, with nymphs and timbrels, etc, to the Greek-inspired procession here of Una to the satyrs’ part of the forest
  ¶: Redcrosse chokes the dragon Errour (1.20-22, 25-26) —— connect the vomitus of Errour as well as the dragonlets with the folklore elements of canto 12, stanzas 9-11, by Spenser’s own “myth-making” in the narrative of Errour

Conclusion: so what? Here’s the “heart” of my conclusion: “Canto 12 is a festive, triumphal moment in the poem not only because the dragon is dead but also because the celebration carries the resonance of ancient ritual and contemporary legend-making.”