Desire, Disgust, and the Perils of Strange Queenship in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene
Race and Affect in Early Modern English Literature
Additional Publication URL
In Edmund Spenser’s courtly romance, The Faerie Queene (1590, 1596), the anxiety around queenship and power becomes a crucial site where racialization is produced through affect. While white womanhood secures the future of the Reformed realm, a foreign queen emblematizes the threat of infection, which can permeate the commonwealth religiously, culturally, or physiologically. At the point of contact, the strange woman’s embodied difference evokes feelings of wonder and desire that inform early modern racialization. In this essay, I argue that The Faerie Queene’s affective constructions of racial identities provide a productive lens through which a foreign queen’s racial otherness, namely her moral degeneration, sexual transgression, and religious idolatry, is made legible. This legibility is most vivid through the operative and disavowed component of disgust. By tracing how affective capacities shape the ideology of racial purity, I posit that boundaries of feeling operate as a coercive epistemological category in this sprawling allegory of hierarchy, difference, and power.
Mira Assaf Kafantaris' chapter "Desire, Disgust, and the Perils of Strange Queenship in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene" in Race and Affect in Early Modern English Literature edited by Carol Mejia LaPerle, published by Arizona Board of Regents for Arizona State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.
Kafantaris, Mira Assaf, "Desire, Disgust, and the Perils of Strange Queenship in Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene" Race and Affect in Early Modern English Literature / (2022): -.
Available at https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/facsch_papers/1405