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  1. As is clear in A View of the Present State of Ireland, Spenser was deeply troubled that the "Old English," descended from the twelfth-century Anglo-Norman conquerers of England, seemed closer to the Irish than to the Elizabethan English in their customs, language, and religion. Read the excerpt from A View of the Present State of Ireland and then compare it to Book 2, Canto 12 of Spenser's The Faerie Queene (NAEL 8, 1.857–67). What images appear in both texts? Does Spenser's account of the "degeneration" of the Old English shed light on this canto? If so, what does Guyon's behavior in the Bower of Bliss imply for Ireland?
  2. Like Spenser, John Derricke saw the native Irish (and Irish women in particular) as intractable threats to English civilization and good government. Compare the representation of Irish temptresses in Derricke with the passages from Spenser's View, and/or the Bower of Bliss episode in Book 2, Canto 12 of The Faerie Queene.
    1. What do Spenser and Derricke have in common, in terms of argument, attitudes, and imagery? Are there significant differences between them?
    2. In later centuries, the representation of the women of colonized cultures as dangerous temptresses became a mainstay of colonial discourse. Consider, as one example, the passage in Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Locksley Hall," beginning "I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race" (NAEL 8, 2.1134, line 168). In what ways do Tennyson's anxieties resemble or differ from Spenser's and Derricke's? What other examples of the foreign temptress figure have you encountered, in NAEL or elsewhere? Does this stereotype still exist today?
  3. For his harsh satire on the sexual morality of Irish women, Derricke employs a mock-pastoral mode. What is at stake in this choice of genres? You may wish to contrast Derricke's mock-pastoral with examples of true Elizabethan pastoral, e.g., an eclogue from Spenser's Shepherdes Calender (NAEL 8, 1.708–13), or Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" (NAEL 8, 1.1022). In what ways does Irish culture, as English writers perceived it, mirror the pastoral world?
  4. "Fúbún fúibh" is the composition of an Irish bard exhorting his Gaelic-speaking audience to resist English domination. To what extent does the impression of the bardic craft received from this poem match up with John Derricke's description of Irish bards and what they do? How much does Derricke, not a Gaelic-speaker, seem to know about bardic poetry? What aspects of the Gaelic poem contradict or simply fail to accord with Derricke's assumptions?
  5. Although the chief task of the bards was to praise the clan leaders who were their patrons, they were also allowed a degree of license unimaginable in English society. An English writer who dared, like the author of "Fúbún fúibh," to criticize the monarch or members of the nobility by name would almost certainly have suffered terrible consequences (as the case of the writer Stubbs makes clear, see NAEL 8, 1.495). The danger of incurring royal displeasure is registered in many sixteenth-century English texts, such as Book 1 of More's Utopia (NAEL 8, 1.524–45), and Wyatt's "Whoso list his ease and wealth retain" (NAEL 8, 1.603–04). What does a comparison of these texts with "Fúbún fúibh" suggest about the role of poetry and writing in English and Irish cultures, respectively? What do the texts on this Web site suggest about the role of literature in the conflict between them?
  6. Wedderburn's Complaint of Scotland and Munday's Triumphs of Reunited Britannia both recount, from very different perspectives, the legendary division of Britain by Brutus, and the prophesy that Britain would one day be reunited. Shakespeare's King Lear (NAEL 8, 1.1143–1223) also focuses on legendary British history and the problem of division, but in a far more complex way. In what ways can King Lear be seen to reflect the perspectives of Wedderburn and/or Munday toward:
    1. The legendary history of Britain in general?
    2. The highly topical matter of division and reunion?
  7. Munday's Triumphs of Reunited Britannia presents both the initial conquest of Britain by Brutus and the subsequent reuniting of Britain under James I as victories of civilization over savagery and anarchy. The pageant thus resonates with later texts that seek to justify Britain's imperialist expansion on the basis of its "civilizing mission." Compare Munday with a much later apologist for British imperialism, the Victorian John Ruskin ("Imperial Duty," NAEL 8, 2.1317). What is similar in Munday's and Ruskin's arguments?
  8. What aspects of Elizabethan London most interested the sixteenth-century German tourist Thomas Platter? What do his observations about London tell us about Platter's own background? What light does his report shed on the milieu from which the plays of Marlowe and Shakespeare emerged?
  9. The extracts from Stow describe two acts of vandalism, the first directed against an image of the Virgin Mary, the second against hedges raised by enclosing landlords. In both cases, violence against property is a means of expressing religious or political ideas. The official attitude to such actions was, at least in theory, harsh and uncompromising, as the Homily Against Disobedience and Willful Rebellion (NAEL 8, 1.635) makes clear. Yet in both cases described by Stow, the response of the civic and royal authorities appears curiously ambivalent. What do these two cases, set alongside the Homily, suggest about the relationship between power and dissent in Tudor England?

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