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Summer School 2016 – Abstracts Morning Lectures

Who are “we”? A global text in 1600

Mary Fuller

I will be speaking about Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (1600) –an enormous and diverse collection of travel writing and related documents published at the end of Elizabeth I’s reign. The contents of the collection document movement into regions and contact with populations that were new to participants, authors, and contemporary audiences: Africa, the Arctic, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific. They evidence the translation of practice into discourse, and theory into practice. Finally, the editor’s delineation of spatial regions as discrete paratextual categories offers evidence of the ways spaces and populations were being conceptualized, in a work that has long been regarded as among the founding documents of an English national identity grounded in an imperial relation to the rest of the world. My work explores how literary methods can most productively be applied to materials emerging from in historical experience and from non-narrative practices of writing as recording: how can we best read this collection, as textual analysts? I’m especially interested at present in the ways collective identities are shaped, reshaped, and articulated in and across the documents that make up the book, from the micro-level of individual ships’ companies to the macro-level of nation and confession; this topic will be the focus of my talk.

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