Sherman in the 16th century
With the assistance of the Academic Affairs Conference Fund, Mark Sherman (Professor, Literary Arts and Studies) traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia to attend the annual Sixteenth-Century Society Conference held at the Sheraton/Wall Conference Center, where he presented a paper on his sabbatical-year’s work on Edmund Spenser and Giordano Bruno. The essay, titled The Ethics of Infinity: Spenser and Bruno Reconsidered, was presented at one of four sessions at the conference devoted to the work of Edmund Spenser, this one on Spenser’s Influences.
The paper considered briefly the problem of identifying literary and philosophical influences in a poet like Spenser, and then undertook a reassessment of Spenser’s engagement with Bruno’s thought in the aftermath of significant developments in recent years on the work of each writer. With Spenser no longer considered a dyed-in-the-wool Neo-Platonist and Bruno brought out from the obscurantism of Renaissance Hermeticism, the politico-theological implications of their thought becomes more mutually apparent. I argued that Bruno’s challenge to Christian doctrine posed by his theory that the universe is infinite and inhabited by multiple worlds–the heart of the heresy for which he was eventually executed by the Vatican–is manifest in a similar doctrinal challenge in the conclusion to Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Book I, the Legend of Holiness.