Judith H. Anderson

Judith H. Anderson

Chancellor's Professor Emeritus, English

  • anders@indiana.edu
  • (812) 855-3821
  • Ballantine Hall 457
  • Office Hours
    By Appointment Only


  • Ph.D., Yale University, 1965
  • M.A., Yale University, 1962
  • A.B., Radcliffe College, 1961


My interests revolve around the creation, understanding, and value of imaginative thinking and writing. My single-author books best explain what I’m about. The first, on Langland’s Piers Plowman and Spenser’s Faerie Queene, engages intellectual and aesthetic relations between the late Middle Ages and the sixteenth century. Its core concern is the relation of figuration to knowing in these encyclopedic, culturally engaged poems.

My second book, Biographical Truth, is about biographical fiction as much as biographical truth. It concerns the shaping, though fiction, of history, and examines the relations of biography, history, and Shakespearean drama. Variant versions of "truth" and the relation of biographer to subject especially interest me, from the Venerable Bede and to Francis Bacon.

My last three major books constitute a trilogy on language, rhetoric, and poetics. Words That Matter treats changing conceptions of language and its shaping influence on human perception. It focuses on the equivocal "thingness" of language in early modern dictionaries, as well as in grammars, logics, rhetorics, treatises, plays, poems, and sermons.

Translating Investments is a meditation on the functioning of metaphor (translatio), in Tudor-Stuart culture. It also questions the position of language and rhetoric within post-structuralism and cognitive science, highlighting connections between current problems and those in the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries. It has chapters on language, religion, politics, literature, classical rhetoric, and economics.

Reading the Allegorical Intertext focuses on canonical narrative from Chaucer to Shakespeare and Milton. The intertext encompasses Kristevan intertextuality and traditional relationships of influence, imitation, allusion, and citation. Its expressions range from deliberate emulation to linguistic free play and enable examination of individual agency and determinism. My intertext is allegorical both because Spenser’s Faerie Queene is pivotal to it and because allegory encapsulates (and magnifies) the process of making meaning.

Recently, my teaching has focused on Spenser, Milton, and literary theory and has variously involved my capacious book projects. Donne and Shakespeare have been significant presences in my books, and I hope soon to teach seminars on them.

Journal Articles and Other Publications

Selected Publications:
  • Ed. (with Elizabeth Kirk), Will's Vision of Piers Plowman, by William Langland, trans. E. Talbot Donaldson (Norton, 1990)

  • Biographical Truth: The Representation of Historical Persons in Tudor-Stuart Writing (Yale UP, 1984)

  • The Growth of a Personal Voice: "Piers Plowman and The Faerie Queene" (Yale UP, 1976)
Sample of Recent Articles:
  • "Better a Mischief than an inconvenience: 'The saiyng self' in Spenser's View, or, How many meanings can stand on the head of a proverb?" in Worldmaking Spenser: Explorations in the Early Modern Age', ed. Patrick Cheney and Lauren Silberman (U of Kentucky P, forthcoming in 1999)

  • "Beyond Binarism: Eros/Death and Venus/Mars in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra and Spenser's Faerie Queene." In Shakespeare and Spenser: Attractive Opposites, ed. Julian Lethbridge. Manchester Eng.: Manchester University Press, 2008. (Forthcoming)

  • "Britomart's Armor: Reopening Cultural Matters of Gender and Figuration." in English Literary Renaissance, 39 (2009). (Forthcoming)

Selected Honors and Awards:
  • Isabel G. MacCaffrey Prize: for the best book on Spenser and Renaissance literature published in 2008-2009

  • NEH Fellowships (4)

  • National Humanities Center Fellowship

  • Mayers Foundation Fellowship

  • Dulin Fellowship

  • Outstanding Woman Scholar Award

  • Teaching Excellence Recognition Awards