Spenser's Ruins and the Art of Recollection
What is the art of memory? Rebeca Helfer's intertextual study Spenser's Ruins and the Art of Recollection offers a fresh perspective on the significance of this ancient mnemonic technique to Edmund Spenser's writing and, through this lens, explores the art’s complex historical and literary reception.
Beginning with the origins of mnemonic strategies in epic tales, Helfer examines how the art of memory speaks to debates about poetry and its place in culture from Plato to Spenser's present day. As Helfer argues, ruins provide memorial spaces for an ongoing dialogue about how story relates to history, and how both relate to edification and empire-building.
Through detailed, intertextual readings of The Shepheardes Calender, The Faerie Queene, the Complaints, and other Spenserian works, Helfer demonstrates how the art of memory shapes Spenser's theory and practice of poetry as well as his political view, throughout his career. More broadly, Spenser's Ruins and the Art of Recollection points to new ways of understanding the importance of this art within literary studies.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 408 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.3in x 9.3in
Choice Magazine, vol 50:05:2012
‘Helfer’s memorable treatment of the topic and topos of memory is a major contribution to Spenser studies, Renaissance studies, and memory studies, and in its astute observations on Milton and others it opens up spaces on which subsequent critics will want to dwell.’
Renaissance Quarterly, vol 66:02:2013
‘This is a fascinating, scholarly, and thought provoking work, and a formidable contribution to the growing body of challenges to Greenblatt’s influential vision of imperialist Spenser.’
Review of English Studies vol 64:267:2013
‘Rebecca Helfer’s monograph makes an invaluable contribution not only to Spenser scholarship but, more generally, to memory studies of the early modern period… Stimulating and substantial study of Spenser’s fascination with ‘the desire and duty to remember the past’.’
Modern Language Review vol 110:02:2015
Author InformationRebeca Helfer is an associate professor in the Department of English at the University of California, Irvine.
Table of contents
Preface: Preamble to Ruin
1 Spenser’s Complaints: The Fall of Troy, The Ruin of Rome, and tThe Art of Recollection
2 The Death of the ‘New Poete’: Ruin and Recollection in The Shepheardes Calender
3 The Ruines of Time and the Art of Recollection
4 ‘The Methode of a Poet Historical [and] … an Historiographer’: Recollecting the Past in the 1590 Faerie Queene
5 Golden Age Returns: Recollecting Prehistory as Present in Spenser’s Later Work
Conclusion: Misprision and Freedom: Ruining and Recollecting the Bower of Bliss
Subjects and Courses