Lorna works on the literature of the early modern period in England and is interested in the complex interrelations of literary form and other forms of cultural practice. She has focused for some years on the shared ground between poetics and forensic rhetoric—that is, on the ways in which literary texts invite readers and audiences to supplement the text, or mis-en-scène, with inferences and imaginings that make it seem 'true to life'. Questions of guilt and innocence stimulate our imaginations and our story-making capacities: legal rhetoric thus plays an unexpectedly important role in the truth-like effects of fiction.
From 2014-2017, Lorna held a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for a project entitled Shakespeare’s Scotland, 1503-1616. In this project, she tries to bring together the distinct fields of early modern Scottish literature and early modern English literature, asking how poets in both polities responded to their distinctive and conflicting national histories in forging a poetry of contemporary nationhood. Legal fictions, chorographies and economic projects play their part in these national imaginings and the whole is not without its relevance in the present historical moment.
Lorna Hutson is a Fellow of the British Academy.