Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

English, MA


Spenser, Edmund, 1552?-1599


The complex phenomenon known as the Renaissance stimulated man with an insatiable curiosity in all things that had to do with human life and activity. The powerful searchlight of curiosity was especially turned on the ancient world – its learning, art, and literature – with a resultant diffusion of light so widespread that its influence is incalculable. In Italy, which in the fourteenth century saw the dawn of the Renaissance, “a glorious sumptuousness” of life prevailed. Ostentation, manifesting itself in brilliant dress, in beautiful homes, in wealth, and in magnificence of every kind, characterized the new movement. The Renaissance insisted on the liberation of social, intellectual, and aesthetic faculties. In Italy, for the first time after the overthrow of ancient civilization, man, affected by the new intellectual light, acted as a free agent in thought and in deed. But for the emphasis on and the development of the individual, the Renaissance could not have been; for as Hulme explains, “It is only through the channel of individuality that new thought and new art can come into the world; and thought and art, immaterial though they be, are the matrix that shapes the issues of life.” The search for the individual naturally led to ancient Greece, whose people had recognized the importance of individuality; “it is to this that their supreme achievements in art were largely due.” William H. Woodward, in his Education during the Renaissance, states that enthusiasm for antiquity was born of two motives: first, patriotic sentiment; second, aesthetic attraction. Through a deep reading in ancient history, the thinkers of the Renaissance recovered the wisdom of the ancients to apply to the problems of actual life.