Edmund Spenser spent most of his adult life as an English planter in Ireland, where uprisings against English rule were a regular occurrence. A View of the Present State of Ireland, which is written as a dialogue between two Englishmen, examines the reasons why previous attempts to subdue the Irish had failed and proposes strategies by which English rule could be imposed once and for all. In the first half of the work, Irenius, an expert on Irish affairs, describes to Eudoxus the evil customs of the Irish, condemning their nomadic herding practices, their religion, their social and familial organization, their bards, their hair and dress, and so on. In the second half, he outlines a program for the military pacification of Ireland. The brutality of Spenser's proposals, and his insistence on martial rather than common law as the solution to the Irish problem, may explain why the book was not printed until 1633.
Dr. Tom Bulger 's discussion will focus on how Spenser's view of Ireland reflected the Elizabethan England's received views of religion, warfare, political, moral, linguistic, and cultural issues in Ireland in the 16th century.