The Gender of Sovereignty
In European Politics and Aesthetics
KU Leuven | 18-20 December 2017
To what extent would our perception of the history of sovereignty change if we systematically looked at it from a gender perspective? Sovereignty as political power or authority of governance has been a major theme in European thought from the beginning of the intellectual reflection on community. Indeed, a multiplicity of discourses and cultural practices ranging from philosophy and political theory to historiography, theology, arts and literature have, often in entangled ways, sought to legitimize, represent, explore, recalibrate or reject conceived notions of rule. While there can be no misunderstanding as to the reality of sovereignty, its conceptualization has always been a matter of imagination, as Hobbes already revealed when he conceded a reciprocity of ‘laws of nature’ and ‘persons artificial’ in his design of the appropriate rule. Yet whereas the imagination of sovereignty is not a straightforward narrative, its entire history reveals a remarkably obsessive embarrassment with gender that still persists today. No matter what political covenant became dominant, the idea of female sovereignty or women’s consistent participation in matters of authority was deemed abnormal, exceptional, unnatural, hence necessarily transitory and in need of a rhetoric of apology and endorsement. Not only state rule, but mutatis mutandis all forms of civic communal configurations, such as the field of cultural production, religious life or scholarship, seem to echo the same mantra of (un)gendered authority. And to what extent do biopolitical theories of rule and power include a gender perspective? Was political sovereignty by women not always already subject to some form of ‘biopolitical’ discourse? Does, in other words, history from the perspective of female rule yield a similar narrative from antiquity to modernity as set out by Foucault et al.? This international, interdisciplinary conference seeks to revisit the history of sovereignty in European thought and culture by consistently assuming a gender perspective from the beginnings of modernity until today.
Anke Gilleir (KU Leuven), Aude Defurne (KU Leuven), Ortwin de Graef (KU Leuven), Bart Philipsen (KU Leuven), Hannelore Roth (KU Leuven), Michiel Rys (KU Leuven), Beatrijs Vanacker (KU Leuven)
Marnix Beyen (U Antwerpen), Ortwin de Graef (KU Leuven), Raf Geenens (KU Leuven), Anke Gilleir (KU Leuven), Martin Kohlrausch (KU Leuven), Bart Philipsen (KU Leuven), Marjan Sterckx (U Gent), Beatrijs Vanacker (KU Leuven), Katlijne Van der Stighelen (KU Leuven), Marianne Van Remoortel (U Gent)
Call for Papers
The conference on the gender of sovereignty in European politics and aesthetics wants to bring together investigations that revisit issues of gender and sovereignty from a variety of disciplines. The historical scope of the conference ranges from the beginnings of modernity to the present. We invite papers that address imaginations of sovereignty in political and cultural discourse either through case-studies or in comprehensive analyses envisioning a modified history. Topics of interests include but are not restricted to:
- Women's sovereignty in politics, the arts and different media and performances: cases, modifications and ambivalences
- Metonymies of sovereignty (in civic life and cultural networks)
- Fantasies of female rule in intellectual or poetical discourse
- Gender, authority and literary and artistic genres
- Beyond the public eye: experiences and reflections of power in correspondence, diaries and memoirs
- History and historiography: from historicism to biopolitics
- Pathological scripts of female rule
- Bodies of female rule
Marnix Beyen is Professor at the History Department of the University of Antwerp, Belgium. In his research on political history he focuses on political institutions, ideologies and cultures and processes of political representation. Selected publications: Local Memories in a Nationalizing and Globalizing World (2015), Nationhood from below: Europe in the long nineteenth century (2012), België tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog (2004) and Oorlog en verleden: nationale geschiedenis in België in Nederland 1938-1947 (2002).
Elisabeth Krimmer is Professor of German at UCDavis, California. She has published widely on the representation of war, gender issues and film in German literature and culture from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Selected publications: Contemporary Hollywood Masculinities: Gender, Genre, and Politics (2011, co-author Susanne Kord), The Representation of War in German Literature from 1800 to the Present (2010), In the Company of Men: Cross-Dressed Women Around 1800 (2004) and Hollywood Divas, Indie Queens, and TV Heroines: Contemporary Screen Images of Women (2004, co-author: Susanne Kord).
Historic Royal Palaces London
Joanna Marschner is senior curator at Historic Royal Palaces, London. In 2014 she published the study Queen Caroline: Cultural Politics at the Early Eighteenth-Century Court, which explores Caroline’s significant contributions to the arts and culture of her days. Marschner is the lead curator of the exhibition ‘Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World’, which is currently shown at the Yale Center for British Art and will be on view at Kensington Palace, London from June to November 2017.
Maria Cristina Quintero
María Cristina Quintero has been teaching at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania since 1993 where she is Professor of Spanish and co-director of Comparative Literature and Romance Languages. The primary focus of her teaching and scholarship is Spanish theater and lyric of the so-called ‘Golden Age’, with particular concentration on gender issues and women writers. Recent publications include Gendering the Crown in the Spanish Baroque Comedia (2012) and the co-edited volumes Beyond Spain's Borders: Women Players in Early Modern National Theaters (2017) and Perspectives on Early Modern Women in Iberia and the Americas (2015).
Judith Vega is Lecturer in Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Her research generally addresses issues at the intersection of politics and culture, ranging from democracy theory, citizenship and the public sphere, freedom of speech, art and politics to feminist philosophy. She has co-edited the volume titled Cultural Citizenship in Political Theory (2012) and is the author of Isabelle de Charrière en de kritiek van de Verlichting (2005).
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