England's Insular Imaginings: Inaugural Lecture of Professor Lorna Hutson, Merton Professor of English Literature

In the reign of Elizabeth I, the contested claims of English sovereignty over Scotland, based in the mythic “British” history of Brutus and King Arthur, were replaced by a poetic and chorographic image of England itself as an island with no land border. How did this happen and what did it mean for relations between England and Scotland? This lecture will explore those questions, tracing changes and transformations through war propaganda, river poetry, choreography, antiquarianism and cartography. It will conclude with some discussion of Spenser’s Faerie Queene (1596). The lecture aims at revising assumptions about the inclusivity of “British history” in English poetry.