Spenser claims the goal of his epic, The Faerie Queene, is “to fashion a gentleman”—that is, to make a person from a poem. What would it mean to think of reading as an exercise in self-creation? The Faerie Queene explores these questions through its knightly protagonists, including: an inexperienced young man destined to become St. George, and a female warrior who searches for a lover she has met only in a dream. Reading forms an integral component of these knights’ quests as they strive to interpret the illusions of a shape-shifting wizard, the enigmatic words of speaking trees, and the actions of living embodiments of virtues and passions. These practices of self-creation have implications for issues of gender, sexuality, social agency, and the human relation to the non-human world that this course will explore.