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Erotic SubjectsThe Sexuality of Politics in Early Modern English Literature$
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Melissa E. Sanchez

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199754755

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199754755.001.0001

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“Who Can Loue the Worker of Her Smart?”

“Who Can Loue the Worker of Her Smart?”

Tyrannous Seduction in The Faerie Queene

(p.57) Chapter 3 “Who Can Loue the Worker of Her Smart?”
Erotic Subjects

Melissa E. Sanchez

Oxford University Press

Chapter Three reads Spenser’s The Faerie Queene as a study of the limitations of hagiographic resistance. Writing in a period of increasingly pronounced absolutist discourse, Spenser questions whether subjects are psychologically capable of practicing the principled opposition that writers like Foxe and Sidney advocated. The 1596 edition of The Faerie Queene insists that individual motives and desires are often conflicted and indiscernible, even to one’s own self. By stressing the impenetrability of erotic choices, Spenser explores the grim possibility that subjects may wilfully confuse the internal force of their own perverse passions with the external compulsion of the ruler. They may therefore find themselves colluding with tyranny despite their best conscious intentions.

Keywords:   Edmund Spenser, Elizabeth I, history of anatomy and medicine, legal history, gender, sexuality, allegory, Huguenots, international Protestantism

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