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Rachel Winchcombe

Thesis: Savagery and Civilisation: Representations of Americans in English Print Culture, 1492-1607.

This project seeks to examine English understandings of indigenous Americans in the period prior to the settling of the Jamestown colony in 1607. By looking at English print culture between 1492 and 1607 I hope to discover how far representations of America, usually associated with English colonialism and Enlightenment thinking, were already present in the sixteenth century. The project will explore to what extent ideas of ‘barbarian’ and ‘noble savage’, and their contrast with European ‘civilisation’, were the result of Renaissance and Reformation notions of religion, morality, and classical knowledge, not just that of the Enlightenment propensity for rationality and empiricism. Much printed Americana from this period was either adapted or translated from works first produced in continental Europe, influencing the way America was perceived at a time when the English had little direct experience of the world across the Atlantic. The project will also therefore have a transnational dimension, examining the adaptation of European concepts and the cultural and intellectual connections between England and her European neighbours.


Expected submission date

  • September 2017

Funding awards

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Block Grant Partnership Award
  • President's Doctoral Scholar Award

Research interests

Early Modern English Society, Print Culture, and Cultural Encounters.

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