This website is the first iteration of a project exploring early modern epic writing from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene to John Milton’s Paradise Lost. In this first incarnation, the project focuses on commonplaces, scrutinizing Spenser and Milton’s engagement with these as a way of understanding how they are structuring their epics, and in turn, how these are crucial components defining what it meant to write epic in English.

The site will house a digital commonplace book documenting Spenser and Milton’s use of recurring literary touchstones including images, rhetorical and logical structures, and lexis, and visualizations of these commonplaces, the first of which are being forged by Dr. Emma Annette Wilson and her graduate class, EN668, at the University of Alabama in Fall 2015. In the Epic Visualizations section of the site, students have created slideshow videos exploring Spenser’s similes in The Faerie Queene which furnish a direct engagement with his deployment of specific commonplaces to show the significance of these and the different dynamics which they can generate.

As part of the EN668 course, the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies in the Department of English at the University of Alabama is hosting an internal graduate student conference showcasing papers produced by this course, and students in the MA and Ph.D. program working on concomitant projects. The conference will be anchored by plenary speaker Professor Elizabeth Skerpan-Wheeler’s address championing the use of early modern logic as a means of analyzing Milton’s poetics, and the event takes place on Friday 4 December from 10am-6:15pm in Morgan Hall, room 301, at the University of Alabama. For full details please see the Epic Conference page of the site.