Professor Lorna Hutson

I was educated in San Francisco, Edinburgh and Oxford, and have more or less revisited this itinerary in my recent career, having taught at Berkeley, St Andrews and now, as Merton Professor, at Oxford. I work on early modern English literature and am broadly interested in the interrelations of literary form and other forms of cultural practice. In my earlier work (Thomas Nashe in ContextThe Usurer’s Daughter) I was interested in literature’s relation to early modern economics, the household and usury. More recently, I have focused on the shared ground between dramatic verisimilitude and legal or forensic rhetoric. A Guggenheim Fellowship helped me write The Invention of Suspicion, which won the Roland Bainton Prize (2008), while my book Circumstantial Shakespeare came from being asked to give the Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures in 2012. Finally, The Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700) won the Bainton Reference Prize in 2018. A Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship on the imagining of England and Scotland pre 1603 led me to my current project, England’s Insular Imagining, which explores the early modern literary contribution – through political theology, chorography, drama, romance poetry – to the imagining of England as the whole island of Britain.


I am a Fellow of the British Academy through which I work to support humanities research in Britain. I am also Director of the Centre for Early Modern Studies at Oxford and am on the editorial board of an exciting monograph series, Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture. 



I have written on Thomas Nashe (1989); on gender in sixteenth century English literature, The Usurer's Daughter (1994); on drama and participatory justice in The Invention of Suspicion (2007), which won the Roland Bainton Prize for Literature in 2008Circumstantial Shakespeare (2015) based on the Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures, 2012, explores the importance of Shakespeare's creation of an offstage, imaginary 'world of the play' by means of forensic rhetoric. Edited collections include Feminism and Renaissance Studies (1999) and, with Victoria Kahn, Rhetoric and Law in Early Modern Europe (2001). For the Cambridge Complete Works of Ben Jonson (2012), I edited Jonson’s Discoveries (1641). The Oxford Handbook of English Law and Literature, 1500-1700, with chapters by leading legal historians, literary scholars and historians, was published in 2017 and won the Roland Bainton Prize for best reference book in 2018. I have recently written articles on the knees of the body politic (Representations, 2020) and on debt and doorways in Renaissance comedy (Early Modern Debts ed. Laura Kolb and George Oppitz-Trotman) and on ‘The Play in the Mind’s Eye’ (The Places of Criticism ed. Gavin Alexander et. al., forthcoming from Cambridge). My current book-in-progress is England’s Insular Imagining. 

Email Professor Lorna Hutson


With Prof Joe Moshenska I convene the MSt in English, 1550-1700 and teach the core course, ‘Critical Questions in Early Modern Literature’; I give lectures on modern sexualities and Renaissance texts (‘Erotics of Argument’); I teach a special topic, ‘Faith, Proof and Fantasy on the Early Modern Stage’, and also with Prof Moshenska, I teach a seminar on ‘Critical Race Studies and Early Modern Literature’. My PhD and DPhil students have worked, among other things, on lawmaking violence; women’s friendship; Ben Jonson; atheism and clandestine marriage. I teach all genres of literature 1500-1700.


Previous Positions Held

2004-2016 Berry Chair of English Literature, University of St Andrews

2000-2004 Professor of English Literature, University of California at Berkeley

1998-2000 Professor of English Literature, University of Hull

1994-1998 Reader in Renaissance Studies, Queen Mary University of London

1986-1994 Lecturer in English Literature, Queen Mary University of London


Fellowships, Learned Societies, Prizes, Service

2016 Elected Fellow of the British Academy

2013-17 Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, ‘Shakespeare’s Scotland, 1503-1616’

2008-2011 Head of School of English, University of St Andrews

2008 Roland Bainton Prize for Literature for The Invention of Suspicion

2004-5 Guggenheim Fellowship

2002 Humanities Research Fellowship, UC Berkeley

1995 Research Fellow, Folger Institute, Washington DC

1995 Research Fellow, Huntington Library, San Marino, CA


Advisory Boards, Editorships, Directorships

Director of CEMS, the Centre for Early Modern Studies at Oxford

Co-founder and director of CMEMLL, the Centre for Mediaeval and Early Modern Law and Literature, University of St Andrews

Corresponding editor of the journal, Representations

Advisory board of the Thomas Nashe Project

Editor of monograph series, Edinburgh Critical Studies in Renaissance Culture