Belting the Beast: Trans-animality in The Faerie Queene

  • Jocelyn Diemer University of Victoria


Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene is populated by hundreds of animal figures, many of whom are informed by a vast inherited tradition of medieval bestiary animal
symbolism. Taking these bestiary motifs into account and drawing from current trans and animal studies theory, this article shows how book three’s hyena-beast calls attention to the porousness of species boundaries and collapses animal-human hierarchies. This reading highlights the poem’s ambiguous attitude towards the bestial nature of both its animal and its human characters, and gestures towards a Spenserian eco-poetics which emphasises the possibilities for mutuality and collaboration to be found in the shared creatureliness of animals and humans.