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A study of the popularity of Edmund Spenser as revealed by allusion and criticism between the years 1600 and 1850, with an appendix added to show the extent of Spenser study and scholarship in leading North American universities and colleges today Armstrong, Robert James

Abstract

This thesis is a study of the popularity of Edmund Spenser as revealed by allusion and criticism between the years 1600 to 1850. An appendix has been added showing .the extent of Spenser study and scholarship in leading North American universities today. I have shown that Spenser was highly regarded by the Elizabethan and Jacobean writers; was attacked by the neo-classicists; was praised without qualification by the romantics and with qualification by the later romantics; and was severely attacked by the early Victorians. Spenser's popularity, I believe, has declined not among writers but among readers, reaching its lowest point at the time of the romantics, and not regaining strength since. The appendix contains the results of a questionnaire, sent to leading universities, concerning Spenser study and scholarship. In these institutions Spenser receives only a small fraction of the attention that is paid to Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton. In my opinion, the results reveal the fact that mainly because of student apathy towards him, universities are not fostering a study of Spenser. On the whole, I think I have shown that the works of Edmund Spenser have become the property of writers and of a small group of interested scholars.

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