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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores the religious dimensions of Spenser's poetry, which are indebted to a contention-ridden — that is, richly dramatic — landscape of Elizabethan religious identities. His poetry can picture this terrain in terms of antithesis, and perhaps as a result readers have often sought to identify him with myriad political and doctrinal positions along the spectrum of Reformation Christianity. But it is important to remember that in the 1570s and 1580s, the years during which Spenser came of age both poetically and politically, many of the divisions and parties teased out by the events of the following seventy years were as yet intertwined. His poetry thus owes as much to the centripetal as the centrifugal tendencies of contemporary confessional persuasions. Its religious aspects are conditioned not only by Spenser's hallmark syncretism, or the ‘middle way’ of the Elizabethan religious settlement, but the nature of the Elizabethan church in its inaugural decades.

Keywords: poetry, poets, Elizabethan religious identities, syncretism, Elizabethan church

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