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Lorna Hutson: Thinking with Causes: Henry V and Scotland

11 February @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

King Henry V in profile, by an unknown artist. Image from the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 545).

King Henry V. (NPG 545)
Unknown artist, oil on panel, late 16th or early 17th century. Image from the National Portrait Gallery.
Used here under Creative Commons License 3.0.

Written at the time of the accession of a Scots king to the English throne, Shakespeare’s Henry V has been called a ‘succession play’. Yet although critics have discussed the play’s representation of Ireland and Wales, its representation of Scotland goes unmentioned.

This paper shows that Henry V’s chronicle sources and dramatic precursors are profoundly engaged with England’s disputed claim to legal overlordship of Scotland, revived by England’s invasion of Scotland in the 1540s and thereafter by various legal treatises for and against Scottish succession.

Shakespeare’s success in effacing the Scottish dimensions of his historical sources is a triumph of the dramatic use of forensic rhetoric to shift legal questions of national sovereignty into apparently universal questions of inwardness, conscience and ‘character’.

About the speaker:

Lorna Hutson is Berry Professor of English Literature at the University of St Andrews. She received her MA and DPhil from Oxford; her doctoral research was on the Renaissance prose writer Thomas Nashe (1567-1601), and was published by Clarendon Press as Thomas Nashe in Context (1989). From Oxford she move to QMUL and later took up a Chair at the University of Hull, before spending four years as Professor in the English Department of the University of California at Berkeley where, with Victoria Kahn, she edited Rhetoric and Law in Early Modern Europe (Yale, 2001). Recent research concerns the rhetorical bases of Renaissance fiction and drama, and particularly the forensic or legal underpinnings of Renaissance poetic fictions. She is currently working, with Bradin Cormack, on the Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700, and directs CMEMLL, the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature at the University of St Andrews.


This event is part of the SCEMS Visiting Speaker Lecture & Masterclass series.


11 February
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies


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