Fellow's Talk

Sir Walter Ralegh’s Discoverie of Guiana: Courtesy and Piracy in the Poetics of translatio imperii studiique

94 George Street

Providence, RI 02906

This talk considers Ralegh’s insistence throughout the Discoverie of Guiana (1596) that his work describes the trials and tribulations of a virtuous courtier concerned only with the honor of himself, his sovereign, and his country, along side the fact that the expedition was nanced largely by the profits of his privateering and much of his knowledge about the area and its riches had been filtered through the fruits of piracy. This talk explores the ways in which sources—textual or personal— could be used as plunder to enrich the English ‘storehouse,’ suggesting that Ralegh’s dual roles as courtier and privateer allowed him to frame the Discoverie through the rhetoric of translatio imperii studiique, imagining a process through which England could wrest the imperial scepter from Spain.

Minta Zlomke, Brown University, Interdisciplinary Opportunities for Sixth-Year Students in the Humanities & Social Sciences Fellow.