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Society for Court Studies Conference Announcement and Call for Papers


The Society for Court Studies is pleased to announce a two-day conference on the theme of royal ‘heirs and spares’ in early modern Europe, to be held in Oxford on 19-20 September 2013. The focus of the conference will be on heirs to the throne or those who might have been considered ‘extras’, security in case of the death of the heir. Too often the focus of historical research has been on those in the primary seat of power and authority, and rarely on those hovering in the wings, waiting for their big entrance. In many cases, this cue never came, and these heirs have been virtually written out of history, certainly in the public consciousness. Sometimes these heirs and their siblings were in the process of being prepared for rule, but in others their training was oddly ignored. Some spent much of their time chaffing at the restraints on their power—in court intrigues, or even open rebellion—while others focused their energies elsewhere, in patronage of the arts, building projects, or religious devotion. As historiographical emphasis of courts and court cultures shifts away from solely monolithic monarch-centred models towards a multi-polar system, this conference aims to focus not on the sun but its satellites.

We invite proposals for papers of twenty minutes in length on a broad spectrum of topics relating to royal heirs and second sons (or indeed daughters) in the early modern period. The focus of the conference will primarily be on the 16th to 18th centuries in France and Britain, but we are open to proposals that stretch these parameters, chronologically or geographically. We are also keen to stress interdisciplinarity, so suggest papers focusing on aspects of the heirs’ and spares’ literary, artistic, and musical representation and its public reception. Themes to consider include the education of heirs or of younger royal children; their households and finances; their position in court politics; the manner in which they were perceived by the wider public (their ‘image’); their role as patrons of the arts or military leaders; their place in royal ceremonial (baptisms, weddings, funerals), or in royal dynasticism, as marriage partners in international diplomacy, and so on. Royal families in their widest sense will also be considered, thus inclusive of illegitimate offspring.

The event will be held at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, with keynote speakers tentatively including Glenn Richardson (on Henri II of France as the ‘spare’ of Francis I), and Anne Somerset (on Princess Anne of York, the future Queen Anne), among others.

Please submit paper proposals (300 words), for papers (to be given in English), by June 1st to Dr Jonathan Spangler and Dr Catriona Murray at heirsandspares@hotmail.com. Further details will be posted on the Society for Court Studies Website http://www.courtstudies.org/.

An Art Historian Walks into a Journal . . .

Copyright The Captain Christie Crawfurd English Civil War Collection / Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationIt was with a sense of nervous anticipation that I accepted an invitation to join the editorial team at JNR.

Having carried out some research into the role of the Reviews Editor my nerves were not exactly calmed. One article on the subject, from the Library Quarterly, advised that “occupying the position of book review editor makes one vulnerable to all sorts of attacks.” Reading on, I learned of the threat of the disgruntled author, who feels their work has been unfairly assessed or, even worse, ignored altogether; and of the hazards of the temperamental reviewer who takes umbrage at harsh editing. Was I ready for such a position? Could I cope with the demands of maintaining this careful balance between prima donna authors and volatile reviewers? Well, the answer was yes. And, as yet, I have still to encounter the wrath of either – although I do have a copy of Marla Johnson’s A Book Review Editor’s Apologia at hand, should the need arise.

My arrival at JNR also augurs the development and extension of the Journal’s art historical focus, starting shortly with a series of exhibition reviews. Since both the words and images of the Northern Renaissance were shaped by the shifting political, social, religious and intellectual conditions of early modern Europe, it is hoped that this additional emphasis will encourage cross-disciplinary connections and promote a reassessment of just what that monolithic term, “renaissance culture”, actually involved. If you have any ideas for book, film, performance or exhibition reviews, would like to volunteer your services as a reviewer or simply want to get in touch, please do submit a comment below or e-mail me.

Catriona Murray (Associate Editor, Reviews).