This, the first chapter, divided according to particular conceptual and epistemological interests, is concerned with Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and the role transgression plays in the production of the poem’s narrative, particularly that narrative’s interests in male and female identity, imagery or subjectivity. The extensive nature of this closely focused chapter has to do with the necessary establishment of the grounds for understanding precisely why Spenser’s epic poem is so important in the constitution of historically given, specific identities. The chapter is interested, furthermore, in exploring through such readings of the text as I will offer here particular contexts — ideological, historical and discursive — which inform and produce the text. Moreover, the readings and the contexts that I strive to elucidate through them take, as central to the production of Spenser’s text, an underlying cultural and historical response to that which was perceived in the Early Modern Period as transgressive, whilst, simultaneously, apprehending how transgression becomes written into, and so generative of, Spenser’s various reactionary mediations of culturally transgressive identities at the time of writing.
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