Between 1580 and 1745 - Edmund Spenser's journey to an unconquered Ireland and the Jacobite Rebellion - the first British Empire was established. The intervening years saw the cultural and material forces of colonialism pursue a fitful, often fanciful endeavour to secure space for this expansion. With the defeat of the Highland clans, what England in 1580 could only dream about had materialized: a coherent, socio-spatial system known as an empire. Taking the Atlantic world as its context, this ambitious book argues that England's culture during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries was saturated with a geographic imagination fed by the experiences and experiments of colonialism. Using theories of space and its production to ground his readings, Bruce McLeod skilfully explores how works by Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Aphra Behn, Mary Rowlandson, Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift imagine, interrogate and narrate the adventure and geography of empire.
"Reading this fine book is a delight and an education. The prose is powerful and concise, the reading wide yet well digested, and the thesis as intelligent as it is adventuous." John Gillies, Modern Philology "...McLeod's wide-ranging (at times loosely) and learned book details the spatial politics embedded in late sixteenth-, seventeenth-, and early eighteenth-century literary texts...McLeod attends to both the cultural and the material work of English/British identity formation." Spenser Newsletter