Contemporary Thought on Edmund Spenser

By Richard C. Frushell; Bernard J. Vondersmith | Go to book overview

Introduction

EDWIN A. GREENLAW did not live to enjoy a Festschrift from colleagues and students, and this book is not one, at least in the usual sense. The authors herein did not write their essays for Greenlaw or to his memory, although most of them recognize his achievements and importance. Rather, as asked, they wrote chapters for a book which represents contemporary thought on Edmund Spenser, thought, as it turns out, largely consonant with Greenlaw's vision of Spenser's capaciousness. And it is in this that Greenlaw is representative of twentieth-century Spenser scholarship and not in any single technique, approach, or subject matter that he used or encouraged. In fact, one would suspect that each author is in one or more of these regards quite unlike Greenlaw.

Greenlaw acceded to the Sir William Osler Professorship in English in The Johns Hopkins University upon the retirement of Professor James W. Bright in 1925. From then until his death in 1931, Greenlaw oversaw the building of a new department of English at Hopkins and experimented with the seminar system of teaching. "The Proceedings of Dr. Greenlaw's Seminary C" is the record of the seminar (hereafter used for Seminary, its equivalent) meetings, kept by his students from 1925 to 1931.1 Included in "The Proceedings" are minutes, formal presentations by Greenlaw, guest lectures, and graduate papers in various areas of Spenser criticism. Greenlaw unquestionably influenced the style and format of graduate teaching at Johns Hopkins, but he acknowledged his debt to his predecessor, in the minutes of the November 29, 1926, meeting: "'The Seminary at the present time should give a moment's pause in commemoration of Doctor Bright's work,' said Doctor Greenlaw, 'for, in addition to his scholarly work as a writer of articles and textbooks, and as editor of

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