The Faerie Queene, the Gif and the Rhetorical Stuplime
This chapter examines the queer conformity of Edmund Spenser’s knight of love, Sir Scudamore, alongside the similarly queer conformity of the GIF. Short for Graphics Interchange Format, GIFs are essentially compressed image files, often used to punctuate communications on message boards and other social media platforms. This chapter suggests that the visual and poetic structures of the GIF and the Spenserian epic are similar in that both exhibit lack of forward momentum as a path to other, less predictable narratives. Scudamore’s story of “long toil” is the most GIF-like of all the cantos in The Faerie Queene. Like a GIF, it is a story set up to go nowhere. What is surprising, unsettling and at once oddly gratifying, is learning that nowhere is a place we might go.