Sunday, January 28, 2007

Red Queen's Race

I just found out this week that I will need to take another graduate-level course in English, American, and/or multicultural literature for my M.A. in English. No worries, this summer I'll take ENL 6305, Professor Martin's course on Spenser.

Of course I'd like to do my research paper for that class on Spenser's influence on roleplaying games, but I don't know of anything beyond a single article in Dragon magazine, so I will probably do either his influence on later fantasy (primarily DeCamp and Pratt's Harold Shea story "The Mathematics of Magic") or else his use of political allegory.

I'm guessing this last theme is pretty much mined-out, though.

Maybe something about the various ways the word "faerie" was used in Elizabethan times, as Lewis discusses in The Discarded Image.

"[W]ithin the same island and the same century Spenser could compliment Elizabeth I by identifying her with the Faerie Queene and a woman could be burned at Edinburgh in 1576 for 'repairing with the fairies and the 'Queen of Elfame.'"(M. W. Latham, The Elizabethan Fairies (Columbia, 1940), p. 16, quoted in Lewis, The Discarded Image, p. 124.)

Or the various versions of magic according to Renaissance literature, including demonology and academic magic. "In his volume of the Oxford History of English Literature, he explains the difference between magia, high or "white" magic, such as we encounter in Merlin or Bercilek, which is associated with the world of Faerie, and goeteia, black magic, associated with witchcraft and Faustian contracts with the devil. But having made the distinction, Lewis adds that most sixteenth-century writers, including King James himself (who published his Demonology in 1597) condemned all kinds of magic as a snare, warning that even "white magic" was a danger to the soul (7-8)."

Or maybe something about David Lodge's novel Small World...

Regardless of what I do my Spenser paper on, I'm still on track to get my M.A. at the end of 2007 -- or whenever I finish my thesis, whichever comes first. And I'm also on track to teach undergraduates starting this fall.

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