Programme: Hakluyt Society Symposium 2017 – Trading Companies and Travel Literature

The Hakluyt Society Symposium 2017 brings together travel literature and trading companies by exploring how the various early modern Companies collected, created, curated, protected and utilised material relating to travel and discovery around the world. Set in the historic environment of the University of Kent’s Medway campus, the Hakluyt Society Symposium 2017 will take place on 11-12 September 2017.

Registration is open until 1 September. 

Location: Royal Dockyard Church Lecture Theatre, Chatham, ME4 4TE. Please visit our conference website for directions.


11 September 2017

 09.30 – 09.40: Welcome and Introduction

 09.40 – 11.10: Session 1 – Production of Travel Literature

  • Dr Eva Johanna Holmberg (Queen Mary, London), ‘Passages Recollected by Memory’: Remembering the Levant Company in Seventeenth-Century Merchant Life Writing
  • Byapti Sur (Leiden University), Pandemonium in Pomp: A Dutch account of Festivals and Festivities in Seventeenth-Century Mughal India
  • Dr Liam Haydon (University of Kent), Merchants Making History

11.10 – 11.30: Coffee break

11.30 – 13.00: Session 2 – Uses of Travel Literature

  • Prof Michiel van Groesen (Leiden University), From Secrecy to Openness: Dierick Ruiters’ Manuscript Maps and the Birth of the Dutch Atlantic World 
  • Dr Adrien Delmas (l’Institut français d’Afrique du Sud, Paris), The Forgotten Function of Writing: Travel lLterature, International law and the European Share of the World at the Turn of the Seventeenth Century
  • Dr Haig Smith (University of Liverpool), “Assemblies of their own Nations”: Perceptions of South Asian Religious Diversity in Seventeenth-Century English East India Company Correspondence

13.00 – 14.00: Lunch

14.00 – 15.15: Hakluyt Society Editorial Workshop

15.15 – 15.30: Coffee break

15.30 – 17.00: Session 3 – Promoting Trading Companies

  • Prof Anne Goldgar (King’s College London), Marketing Arctic Knowledge
  • Dr Stefan Halikowski Smith (Swansea University), Venice and the Danish East India Company: Reading Nicola Cima’s ‘Relatione Distinta delli Regni di Siam, China, Tunchino e Cocincina’ (c. 1707)
  • Giorgio Tosco (European University Institute), Travel Writing and the Promotion of Trans-Oceanic Trade in Tuscany and Genoa in the Seventeenth Century

18.00: Keynote Address

  • Prof Jyotsna Singh (Michigan State University), The East India Company and English Encounters with Islam in Mughal India

19.00: Reception

Conference Dinner


12 September 2017

9.00 – 10.30: Session 4 – Planning Empire through Travel Literature

  • John Carrigy (National University of Ireland, Galway), John Dee and Elizabethan Empire: Defining Empire within Contemporary Historiographical Culture
  • Marina Bezzi (University College London), Richard Hakluyt and Lancelot Voisin de la Popeliniere: Other-than-European Environments in European Travel Literature Collections
  • Alasdair Macfarlane (Durham University), Creating ‘New Caledonia’: Rumour, News and the Company of Scotland

10.30 – 10.50: Coffee break

10.50 – 12.20: Session 5 – Approaches to Non-European Voices

  • Prof Margaret Hunt (Uppsala University), Dervish Mehmed Edib’s Pilgrimage to Mecca: Gender and Spirituality in an Eighteenth-Century Islamic Travel Narrative 
  • Samuel Ellis (University of Leeds), Reading Early English East India Company Travel Narratives in the Himalayas: Difficulties, Limitations and Opportunities
  • Renu Elizabeth Abraham (University of Kent), Collectors of History: The Case of John William Wye and the English East India Company

12.20 – 13.20: Lunch

 13.20 – Session 6 – 14.50: Materiality of Information

  • Dr Djoeke van Netten (University of Amsterdam), Ships on Maps and Maps on Ships
  • Dr Souvik Mukherjee (Presidency University, Kolkata), “Unburying” Company History: Reconstructing European Company Narratives through Digital Archives
  • Frank Birkenholz (University of Groningen), Paper that Travels: The Materiality of the Dutch East India Company’s Travel Writing, Information Gathering and Knowledge Production

14.50 – 15.10: Coffee break

 15.10 – 16.40: Session 7 – Companies and Colonialism

  • Prof Nandini Das (University of Liverpool), Thomas Roe’s Companies
  • Dr Amrita Sen (Presidency University, Kolkata), Decoding Company Rule: Travel, Taxation and the Bengal Famine of 1770
  • Alison Bennett (University College London/British Museum), Exploration, Treaty-Making and Trade: Sources of the Imperial British East Africa Company

16.40 – 17.00: Closing Remarks and End of Conference


 

‘World enough, and time’: Richard Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World

An important quadricentennial took place on 23 November 2016: the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616). To mark the occasion, an international group of scholars gathered in Oxford for a conference ‘Richard Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World’. In this blog post, Hakluyt@400 organisers, Professors Daniel Carey and Claire Jowitt, once more reflect on the #Hakluyt400 quatercentenary activities in Oxford and Wetheringsett.


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England’s pioneering promoter of overseas exploration, commerce and expansion, Richard Hakluyt, assembled the largest selection of English travel accounts of the era, covering every area of activity around the globe. His book The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation is an astounding compilation of English voyages and discoveries up to his time and marks what we might call the beginnings of the great British historical adventure.

It first appeared in one large c.600,000-word volume in 1589, and then in a much-expanded and updated edition in three volumes between 1598 and 1600. The second edition extended to more than 1.76 million words, containing over 600 individual accounts of travel and exploration by various authors. Hakluyt divided the material into volumes by region, with each then ordered by chronology; its publication was by any reckoning, a truly immense literary and logistical achievement.

Many of the scholars who spoke at the conference are participants in a major international editorial endeavour to prepare the first-ever critical edition of the text, the Hakluyt Edition Project, led by Daniel Carey (NUI Galway) and Claire Jowitt (University of East Anglia), to be published in 14 volumes by Oxford University Press.

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The conference was accompanied by two exhibitions: ‘Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550-1650’ at his old college, Christ Church; and ‘The World in a Book: Hakluyt and Renaissance Discovery’ at the Bodleian Library. The programme as a whole, organised by Carey, Jowitt, and Anthony Payne (Hakluyt Society), involved a partnership between the Hakluyt Society, Christ Church, the Bodleian, and the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford.

The Hakluyt@400 events concluded on 27 November 2016 with the unveiling of a wall-plaque in Hakluyt’s honour at his final parish church of Wetheringsett, Suffolk—four hundred years and one day after his burial in Westminster Abbey.

Hakluyt plaque

The conference included sessions on themes such as ‘Hakluyt, Oxford, and Centres of Power’ that featured papers by David Harris Sacks, Anthony Payne, and Sebastian Sobecki. A similarly lively session on Hakluyt’s global perspectives in ‘the three corners of the world’ (a reference to Shakespeare’s line from King John) saw Nandini Das discuss ‘Hakluyt and India’, Felicity Stout focus on ‘Hakluyt and Russia’ and Bernhard Klein consider ‘Hakluyt and West Africa’. Taken together, the three papers revealed the transnational, international, and interconnected networks and dimensions of Hakluyt’s work.

Other sessions considered ‘Encounters, communication and technology’, ‘Theatres of war, near and far’, ‘Rival ambitions’, ‘Telling tales’, and ‘Influences and legacy’, and involved speakers representing an appropriately international group—given Hakluyt’s project—ranging from the UK to Ireland, the US, Australia, Canada, Spain, France, and the Netherlands.

The conference featured a keynote from the renowned historian Joyce E. Chaplin (Harvard) who offered an eco-critical reading of Hakluyt’s work, showing how nature was central to The Principal Navigations since God had made the world abundant and open for business (especially to the English). The conference ended with a very well-attended public lecture by historian and broadcaster Michael Wood. ‘Voyages, Traffiques, Discoveries: Stories from the Age of Exploration’, described cross-cultural encounters from Mexico and China and looked at what they tell us about Western ways of seeing the world beyond Europe and other cultures and civilisations—all still, as he put it, ‘burning issues in the 21st century’.

The range, depth, and diversity of the scholarship on display across all sessions was impressive (and gratifying to the organisers), a testament to the continued importance of studying colonial pasts in order to understand, and contribute to, post-colonial futures.

This conference and the commemoration of Hakluyt in 2016 more broadly, provided an opportunity to appreciate fully Hakluyt’s influence and legacy. By offering advice on English colonial and imperial projects to the most powerful figures in the land, including Elizabeth I and James I, and career politicians such as William Cecil, Lord Burleigh, and his son Robert, Hakluyt established himself as one of the chief architects of what was to become a global, oceanic, and mercantile British empire.

Likewise, the series of events enabled us to better understand the ways in which the genre of the travel writing collection, which Hakluyt pioneered in England, was crucial to creating a climate that supported English ambitions for exploration, trade, and expansion. Hakluyt’s editorial labours were thus foundational in developing for the English nation a central role in a global economy.

Readers interested in Hakluyt’s legacy, through the work of the Hakluyt Society (established 1846), can find out further information about activities and publications at: http://www.hakluyt.com/. Further details about the project to publish a scholarly edition of The Principal Navigations can be found at: http://www.hakluyt.org.

NOTE: This report first appeared in the Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies, April 2017. SRS supported the attendance of ten postgraduate and early career scholars at the conference through fee-waiver bursaries. Reproduced with permission of the Society.

 

Looking back on Hakluyt@400

The two-day international conference held to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Hakluyt has been an appropriate highlight in a packed Hakluyt Quatercentenary programme  with events in Oxford and Wetheringsett. Thanks are due to the excellent organisation by Claire Jowitt, Daniel Carey and Anthony Payne, as well as to our generous hosts, the Bodleian Library, the Museum for the History of Science, and Christ Church, Oxford. In this blog, Dr Lauren Working, research associate on TIDE (Travel, Transculturality, and Identity in England, 1550-1700), an ERC-funded project led by Hakluyt Society Council member Prof Nandini Das, looks back on  #Hakluyt400.

The geographer and clergyman Richard Hakluyt died in good company: 1616 also marked the death of two internationally-renowned writers, William Shakespeare and the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter and Cervantes’s re-working of chivalric romance have continued to grace school curricula and playhouses around the globe; by comparison, Hakluyt’s impact is less immediately apparent.

The Hakluyt Society, in conjunction with the Bodleian Library Museum for the History of Science and Museum for the History of Science in Oxford, held a two-day conference in November 2016 to examine Hakluyt’s legacy at the four-hundredth anniversary of his death. His two editions of The Principal Navigations, Traffiques, and Voiages of the English Nation (1589, enlarged 1598-1600), have long been considered some of the most important collections of English travel writing ever published, and the conference assembled an international cohort of speakers who presented current research on their work for the forthcoming 14-volume critical edition of The Principal Navigations.


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A number of scholars discussed the particularities of English interactions with indigenous peoples, from Africans in Guinea to the Algonquians in Virginia. Mary Fuller examined the casualties of Anglo-Inuit exchange in the English search for the Northwest Passage, and complicated the “us” vs. “them” mentality of English voyages by highlighting the heterogeneity and factions among ship crews.

Other papers engaged with the continuity between state policy and trade in the late middle ages and early modern period through Hakluyt’s inclusion of a fourteenth-century poem; the importance of naval history and the experience of seamen in effecting expansion; the mercantilist emphasis of Hakluyt’s second edition; and the English desire to exploit global markets, such as Indian cotton. Joyce Chaplin delivered a keynote lecture that argued that English attitudes towards natural resources and climate-based notions of human physiognomy set the groundwork for the enslavement of non-European peoples, to disastrous consequences.

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Prof Nandini Das presenting on the place of India in Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations. Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World conference, Oxford.

 

The discussions that emerged from the papers centred around several key aspects of early modern global historiography, suggesting future avenues for research. One is the continuing development of environmental studies and ecocriticism as important approaches in the history of expansion, which was, after all, fundamentally about land and the exploitation of its resources. As Joyce Chaplin put it, pro-imperial authorities and their agents saw a relationship between economies and ecosystems. The Greek oikos and the Latin oeco were terms that denoted households, but also the management of the estates themselves.

Secondly, papers highlighted the need to reconstruct the experience of non-European peoples, especially their capacity to dictate the terms of Anglo-indigenous exchange. Surekha Davies pointed out that instances of the passive voice in Hakluyt might offer hints as to moments when indigenous peoples dominated colonial encounters, at times when Europeans struggled to successfully dictate the terms of the exchange.

Related to attempts to recalibrate approaches to intercultural encounters, other papers emphasised the value of using non-English-language sources to enhance and complicate global historiography. Persian accounts of English diplomatic missions, such as Anthony Jenkinson’s in the 1560s, both offer correctives to the source manipulation of Safavid chronicles while offering new perspectives on English writings about diplomatic encounters in the east.

Finally, presenters stressed the ongoing importance of tracing the intimate networks between patrons, merchants, gentlemen, and travel writers who produced knowledge about, and effected, empire, which was nothing if not a collaborative effort.

The conference concluded with a public lecture by the historian and BBC broadcaster Michael Wood, who used early modern travel narratives from Asia and South America to question the very idea of discovery: who, he asked, really “discovered” whom in any given exchange?

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Michael Wood delivering the public lecture ‘Voyages, Traffiques, Discoveries’

Scholars today are wary of celebrating Hakluyt’s use of geography, given his imperial aims, but Principal Navigations remains a rich source for accessing the lives of individual agents, and for understanding large-scale historical change. To Hakluyt, the English would not thrive from insularity, and could only find themselves by engaging with the rest of the world.


Lauren Working is a historian of sixteenth and seventeenth-century English politics and culture. Her research examines the convergence between expansion and state formation, drawing on textual and archaeological sources to reconstruct the impact of colonization on the social and discursive worlds of Jacobean London. Lauren is a research associate on TIDE (Travel, Transculturality, and Identity in England, 1550-1700),  a five-year, ERC-funded project that aims to investigate how mobility in the age of travel and discovery shaped English perceptions of human identity based on cultural identification and difference. The project is headed by Professor Nandini Das at the University of Liverpool.


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‘Hakluyt & the Renaissance Discovery of the World’ – Conference Programme

Hakluyt & the Renaissance Discovery of the World

An international conference to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Hakluyt (23rd November 1616)

Thursday 24th November 2016, the Bodleian Library, Oxford, & Friday 25th November 2016, Christ Church, Oxford

organised by Prof. Daniel Carey (NUI Galway), Prof. Claire Jowitt (University of East Anglia), and Mr. Anthony Payne (Hakluyt Society)

To register: https://chch.digitickets.co.uk/event/1592271?catID=6761

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Programme

24th November, the Bodleian Library

 9.30AM–10.30AM arrival & coffee WESTON LIBRARY CONCOURSE


SESSION 1: 10.30AM–12.15PM WESTON LIBRARY, LECTURE THEATRE

Hakluyt, Oxford, & centres of power

 Chair: Dr Sarah Tyacke (Hakluyt Society)

Prof. Sebastian Sobecki (University of Groningen): ‘Hakluyt and the Libelle of Englyshe Polycye

Prof. David Harris Sacks (Reed College): ‘Learning to Know: The Educations of Richard Hakluyt and Thomas Harriot’.

Anthony Payne (Hakluyt Society): ‘Hakluyt and Aristotle at Oxford’


12.15PM-1.15PM lunch WESTON LIBRARY CONCOURSE


SESSION 2: 1.15PM–3.00PM WESTON LIBRARY, LECTURE THEATRE

 Chair: Dr Will Poole (Oxford)

‘the three corners of the world’ (William Shakespeare, King John)

Prof. Nandini Das (University of Liverpool): ‘Hakluyt and India’

Dr Felicity Stout (University of Sheffield): ‘Hakluyt and Russia’

Prof. Bernhard Klein (University of Kent): ‘Hakluyt and West Africa’


3.00PM-3.30PM tea WESTON LIBRARY CONCOURSE


SESSION 3: 3.30PM–5.15PM WESTON LIBRARY, LECTURE THEATRE

Chair: Prof. Will Ryan (Hakluyt Society)

Encounters, communication, & technology

Prof. Michael Leroy Oberg (SUNY Geneseo): ‘Tattoos, Towns, and Tribes: Using Hakluyt to Reconsider Algonquian Communities in “Virginia”’

Prof. Ladan Niayesh (Paris Diderot): ‘Under Persian Eyes: Hakluyt’s Corrective to Safavid Chronicles’

Prof. Surekha Davies (Western Connecticut State University) ‘Hakluyt, The Principal   Navigations, and Encounters with Indigenous Artefacts’


KEYNOTE LECTURE, 5.30PM, WESTON LIBRARY, LECTURE THEATRE

Chair: Capt. Mike Barritt, RN (Hakluyt Society)

Prof. Joyce E. Chaplin (Harvard): ‘“No Land Unhabitable, Nor Sea Innavigable”: Hakluyt’s Argument from Design’

 Followed by drinks reception 7.00PM–8.00PM, UPPER LIBRARY, CHRIST CHURCH

 


25th November, Christ Church

 SESSION 4: 9.00AM–10.15AM BLUE BOAR LECTURE THEATRE

Chair: Prof. Joyce Lorimer (Wilfrid Laurier University)

Theatres of war, near & far

Prof. Carla Rahn Phillips (University of Minnesota): ‘Sarmiento’s Voyage to the South Atlantic and early 1580s International Politics’

Prof. Michael Brennan (University of Leeds): ‘Hakluyt, Howard of Effingham, and Naval Warfare’


 10.15AM-10.45AM coffee UPPER LIBRARY


SESSION 5: 10.45AM–12. NOON BLUE BOAR LECTURE THEATRE

 Rival ambitions

 Chair: Prof. Joyce Chaplin (Harvard)

Prof. Joan-Pau Rubiés (Catalan Institute for Advanced Research): ‘Imperial Emulation and the Making of The Principal Navigations

Prof. Daniel Carey (NUI Galway): ‘Hakluyt and the Clothworkers: Long Distance Trade and English Commercial Development’


12.NOON-1.00PM lunch REFECTORY


SESSION 6: 1.00PM–2.40PM BLUE BOAR LECTURE THEATRE

Telling tales

Chair: Dr Matthew Day (Newman University, Birmingham)

Prof. Mary Fuller (MIT): ‘Consent and Dissent at High Latitudes: The Voyages of John Davis’

Prof. Claire Jowitt (University of East Anglia): ‘Heroic Hakluyt?’

Prof. Joyce Lorimer (Wilfred Laurier University): ‘“Writing for service”: Lawrence Keymis’s Relation of the Second Voyage to Guiana (1596)’


2.40PM–3.00PM tea/coffee UPPER LIBRARY


SESSION 7: 3.00PM-4.40PM BLUE BOAR LECTURE THEATRE

 Chair: Prof. Andrew Lambert (King’s College London)

Influences & legacy

Dr Heather Dalton (Melbourne): ‘Hakluyt and the Cabots’

Prof. Michiel van Groesen (Leiden): ‘Hakluyt and De Bry’

Dr John Hemming (Hakluyt Society): ‘Clements Markham’s half-century for the Hakluyt Society’


FREE PUBLIC LECTURE, 5.00PM–6.45PM, EXAMINATION SCHOOLS (SOUTH)

 Chair: Prof. Jim Bennett (Hakluyt Society)

 Prof. Michael Wood (Manchester): ‘Voyages, Traffiques, Discoveries’

Michael Wood tells three stories from the Age of Exploration, looking at meetings between civilisations in Mexico, India and China, with a coda on the coast of Sierra Leone. Exploring these cross-cultural encounters, the talk looks at what they tell us about Western ways of seeing the world beyond Europe.


For information contact:

daniel.carey@nuigalway.ie

c.jowitt@uea.ac.uk

payne.anthony@btinternet.com


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Hakluyt@400 Quatercentenary programme Autumn 2016

This year is the 400th anniversary of the death of Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616) and the Hakluyt Society will mark this with an exciting programme of events in Oxford and at Hakluyt’s parish of Wetheringsett in Suffolk. Centrepiece of the Hakluyt@400 events will be the two-day international conference Richard Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World, taking place in Oxford on 24-25 November (book your tickets here)

Two free exhibitions will accompany this interdisciplinary conference, both to be launched in October 2016: Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550–1650 at Christ Church, Oxford, and The World in a Book: Hakluyt and Renaissance Discovery, at the Bodleian Library, Oxford. In addition, on Sunday 27 November there will be a commemorative service in All Saints Church, Wetheringsett, Suffolk. Read on for a detailed overview of events!


– Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com


Exhibitions

The two free exhibitions in Oxford will run from October to December 2016. On Friday 14 October, Hakluyt and Geography in Oxford 1550–1650 will be launched at Christ Church, Hakluyt’s old college, with a symposium on Renaissance scientific instruments and a reception. In November, events at Christ Church will include workshops on scientific instruments from the Christ Church collection by Dr Allan Chapman and Dr Stephen Johnston.

On Friday 28 October, The World in a Book: Hakluyt and Renaissance Discovery will be launched with a lecture (5:30pm) by William Poole (New College), introducing the books which heralded an era of exploration, discovery, and imperial expansion. The lecture opens a display at the Bodleian’s Weston Library of the works and collections of Richard Hakluyt. One of the greatest treasures of the library, the Codex Mendoza, once owned by Hakluyt, will be included in this exhibition.


Commemorative Service

At 10.30 a.m. on Sunday 27 November, there will be a commemorative service in All Saints Church, Wetheringsett, Suffolk, IP14 5PP, Hakluyt’s parish, which will be led by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, with the dedication of a stone plaque in memory of Richard Hakluyt. This will be followed by a buffet lunch in the Village Hall with a programme of music and readings. There will be an opportunity for small groups of Hakluyt Society members to visit the surviving part of Hakluyt’s former rectory.

Members who wish to be present at Wetheringsett are asked to contact the Society (office@hakluyt.com) as early as possible to assist the planning of the local organisers.


Conference

The two-day conference, Richard Hakluyt and the Renaissance Discovery of the World, takes place on 24 November at the Bodleian Library, and on 25 November at Christ Church, Oxford. Twenty renowned experts on Hakluyt and early modern travel and exploration have accepted an invitation to speak at the conference. The keynote lecture on 24 November, “No Land Unhabitable, Nor Sea Innavigable“: Hakluyt’s Argument from Design will be delivered by Professor Joyce Chaplin (Harvard University). At the conclusion of the event on 25 November, a free to attend public lecture, Voyages, Traffiques, Discoveries, will be given by the well-known broadcaster and historian Professor Michael Wood (more info below).


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Full line-up

Keynote speakers

Professor Joyce Chaplin – Harvard University

Professor Michael Wood – The University of Manchester

Speakers

Professor Michael Brennan – University of Leeds

Professor Daniel Carey (organiser) – NUI Galway

Dr Heather Dalton – University of Melbourne

Professor Nandini Das – University of Liverpool

Professor Mary Fuller – MIT

Dr John Hemming – Hakluyt Society

Professor Claire Jowitt (organiser) – University of East Anglia

Professor Bernhard Klein – University of Kent

Professor Karen Ordahl Kupperman – New York University

Professor Emerita Joyce Lorimer – Tri University

Professor Ladan Niayesh – Université Paris Diderot

Professor Michael Leroy Oberg – SUNY-Geneseo

Anthony Payne (organiser) – Hakluyt Society

Professor emerita Carla Rahn Phillips – University of Minnesota

Professor Joan-Pau Rubiés – Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Professor Emeritus David Harris Sacks – Reed College

Professor Sebastian Sobecki – University of Groningen

Dr Felicity Stout – The University of Sheffield

Professor Michiel van Groesen – Leiden University


Registration and Bursaries

Registration for this two-day event costs £100 per person or £60 for members of the Hakluyt Society and for postgraduates. The fee includes coffee/tea, lunches, and a reception at Christ Church on the Thursday evening. Space is limited and early registration is advised.

A number of fee-waiver postgraduate bursaries are available, due to an award from the Society for Renaissance Studies. If you wish to apply for a bursary, please contact Professor Claire Jowitt (c.jowitt@uea.ac.uk) by 31 August 2016.

All postgraduates who register to attend the conference are entitled to a 50% reduction in membership of the Hakluyt Society for one calendar year (to £15.00). To join using this offer, please see http://www.hakluyt.com/hak-soc-membership.htm and also send confirmation of your registration to attend the conference to office@hakluyt.com.

To book your place, click here.


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How to read Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (1598-1600)?

A long-time reader and analyst of Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation (3 vols. London: 1598-1600), Professor Mary C. Fuller (MIT) is one of the best-placed persons to offer advice on how to read this founding document of English national identity. She did just that at the Hakluyt Society‘s 2016 Annual Lecture held at the University of Notre Dame‘s London campus on 21 June.

Addressing a captivated audience of Hakluyt Society members and their guests present at the 2016 Annual General Meeting, Professor Fuller singled out for analysis the geographical categories contained in Hakluyt’s collection of travel account as well as the multiple identity categories found in the patchwork of texts. In this blog post she highlights the main thrust of her argument.


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MF: For me, one of the great challenges of working on Hakluyt’s collection has been finding productive ways to apply the tools of textual analysis – “literary criticism” – to a work that is not at all a “literary” text (or if it is, only in scattered moments), and which has both many discrete authors and one fairly taciturn editor.  My Annual Lecture gave an overview of some lines of approach; I’ll describe a few of them here.

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Mary Fuller (MIT), Experiments in Reading Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (1600). Hakluyt Society Annual Lecture, 21 June 2016, University of Notre Dame London Campus.

Principal Navigations (1598-1600) [Hakluyt Society Extra Series, Nos. 1-12] is organized by geography:  each of Hakluyt’s three volumes groups together voyages to particular parts of the globe.

It’s been my hypothesis – and an underlying principle of a forthcoming book I’ve been writing on Principal Navigations – that this organizing scheme creates categories that are meaningful for interpretation, both because the voyages themselves often shared common externalities and because these categories are an especially visible intervention by an author who is otherwise relatively hard to find in his book.

Starting from that idea, I’ve found that each section of Principal Navigations may bring certain topics and problems to the fore.

For instance, travellers to the Levant often engage a dimension of time, whether by registering perceptions of change in the physical or cultural environment over a long period, or by deferring to pre-existing practical or textual traditions.  Hakluyt himself describes this part of the collection, uniquely, in terms of its temporal shape: so we could say that the Levant, as a category in the collection, has a distinctive property that we don’t see in representations of other regions.

The regional categories created by Hakluyt as editor are also interesting when they don’t track physical geography. A series of trading voyages with West Africa, beginning in the 1550s, can be found under the heading of “voyages without the straits of Gibraltar” in the second half of volume 2, which is generally devoted to “voyages to the south and southeast”. Although Hakluyt’s introduction to the volume focuses on voyages around Africa, to India and beyond, voyages to West Africa actually account for the largest share of pages in these extra-Mediterranean materials.  As with voyages to the Levant, some regularities of practice and recording emerge when we read them as a set.

But this is by no means all the collection has to offer on West Africa.  Many documents found in Hakluyt’s third volume, devoted to the Americas and other voyages to the West, also have something to say and include very significant information:  for instance, John Hawkins’ attempts at imitating the Spanish trade in Africans as slaves.  Following physical geography across the landscape of Principal Navigations begins to generate new questions and observations about Hakluyt’s conceptual map and those of his voyagers and authors.

The other geographical category I’d highlight – if we can turn from physical to political or human geography —  is the ubiquitous one of Hakluyt’s title:  these are the navigations of the English nation.  Hakluyt’s collection has been described as a founding document of national identity.  But no work of this complexity can offer a simple version of identity.

From the shifting boundaries of England and English-ness in the older materials of volume one, to the changing membership of the first-person plural in Hakluyt’s narratives of siege, warfare, encounter, and simple travel, Principal Navigations gives us a window into how its many versions of “us” were shaped, both in rhetoric and practice.

In the wake of the referendum vote to take Britain out of the EU, this topic of collective identity seems especially timely.

Mary Fuller.

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Mary C. Fuller is Professor of Literature and Head of the Literature section at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She has published numerous essays and books on accounts of early modern travel including Remembering the Early Modern Voyage:  English Narratives in the Age of European Expansion (Palgrave, 2008).

Currently she is working on a new book provisionally entitled Geographic Information in the Age of Drake:  Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations of the English Nation (1600).  With Matthew Day, she is editing Volume 9 of the new 14-volume critical edition of The Principal Navigations (Oxford University Press). Professor Fuller will be a visiting fellow at Balliol College, University of Oxford, this fall.


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#HakluytHull: The Hakluyt Society Conference, 13-14 November 2015


– Join the Hakluyt Society on www.hakluyt.com


Hakluyt Society Conference Programme, Hull, 13-14 November 2015.


To register, please follow this link. Find the full programme here and more information about the conference here.

The Hakluyt Society looks forward to welcoming you in Hull on 13 and 14 November 2015.


@HakluytSociety – Become a member at www.hakluyt.com