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A New World for a New Nation

The Promotion of America in Early Modern England


Francisco J. Borge

In the 1580s, almost a century after Christopher Columbus first set foot in the New World, England could not make any substantial claim to the rich territories there. Less than a century later, England had not only founded an overseas empire but had also managed to challenge her most powerful rivals in the international arena. But before any material success accompanied English New World enterprises, a major campaign of promotion was launched with the clear objective of persuading Englishmen that intervention in the Americas was not only desirable for the national economy but even paramount for their survival as a new and powerful Protestant nation-state. In this book the author explores the metaphors that dominate England’s discourse on the New World in her attempt to conceptualize it and make it ready for immediate consumption. The creators of England’s proto-colonial discourse were forced to make use of their rivals’ prior experience at the same time they tried to present England as radically different, thus conferring legitimacy to English claims over territories that were already occupied. One of the most outstanding consequences of this ideological contest is the emergence of an English national self not only in opposition to the American natives they try to colonise, but also, and more importantly, in contrast to other nations that had been traditionally considered culturally similar.
Contents: The American Enterprise – Richard Hakluyt and His Contemporaries: The Forerunners of England’s Colonization of North America – Authority, Style, and Self-Promotion: Formal and Thematic Aspects of the New World Promotion Literature – The Rhetorics of Nation Building – Towards a Poetics of English Proto-Colonial Discourse in the Renaissance.