Photo of Professor Andrew McRae

Professor Andrew McRae


I was born in Melbourne, Australia, and educated at Monash University and the University of Cambridge. I then taught and held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Sydney, before moving to a post at the University of Leeds. I was subsequently appointed to a position at Exeter in 2000, and was promoted to a personal chair in 2004.

My research focuses on the literature and cultural history of the early modern period (c.1500-1700). One strand of work has focused on literature and the land, considering the ways in which writing of various kinds represents social, economic and environmental changes of the time. This has led to publications including God Speed the Plough: The Representation of Agrarian England, 1500-1660 (Cambridge, 1996) and Literature and Domestic Travel in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2008). A second strand of work has focused on political literature, particularly in the context of the upheavals of the seventeenth century. This has led to publications including Literature, Satire and the Early Stuart State (Cambridge, 2004), and (with Alastair Bellany) the online edition Early Stuart Libels (2005).

My current research is centred on two major AHRC-funded projects. ‘The Stuart Successions Project’ (2012-15; PI, with Paulina Kewes, Oxford, as CI) considers the category of succession literature in the Stuart era (1603-1714). Outputs include a collection of essays (contracted to Oxford University Press), a database, and an anthology of primary materials (contracted to Manchester University Press. ‘The Poly-Olbion Project’ (2013-16; PI, with Philip Schwyzer, Exeter, as CI) aims to produce a new scholarly edition of a remarkable early seventeenth-century work of national description. Poly-Olbion is a 15,000-line poem by Michael Drayton, published with prose notes by John Selden and decorative country maps by William Hole. As well as the scholarly edition, the project will stage a conference and produce a volume of critical essays.

Both ongoing research projects involve strong elements of impact-oriented work. ‘The Poly-Olbion Project’ has a twin-project, ‘The Children’s Poly-Olbion’, co-funded by the AHRC and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Meanwhile, in the autumn of 2015 we will begin work on 'The Stuart Successions: fresh approaches to the understanding of seventeenth-century history and literature', funded by an AHRC follow-on grant.

In my time at Exeter I have been heavily involved in management roles at various levels. Positions have included: Associate Dean, Education, in the College of Humanities; Director of Education, in the School of Arts, Literatures and Languages; Director of Research, English. I have served on University Senior Management Group, Senate, and numerous university-level committees and task-and-finish groups. Most recently, in 2014-15, I chaired the Profesorial Pay Review Group.

At a national level, I am involved in both research and educational policy: as a member of the AHRC Advisory Board, a QAA institutional reviewer, and (since 2015) a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I maintain ‘A Head of Department’s Blog’ and tweet @McRaeAndrew.