Strategic Imaginations

Women and the Gender of Sovereignty in European Culture

Edited by Anke Gilleir and Aude Defurne

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Imaginations of female rule and the imaginative strategies of women rulers

What is the gender of political power ? What happens to the history of sovereignty when we reconsider it from a gender perspective ?

Political sovereignty has been a major theme in European thought from the very beginning of intellectual reflection on community. Philosophy and political theory, historiography, theology, and literature and the arts have, often in dialogue with one another, sought to represent or recalibrate notions of rule. Yet whatever covenant was imagined, sovereign rule has consistently been figured as a male prerogative

While in-depth studies of historical women rulers have proliferated in the past decades, these have not systematically explored how all women rulers throughout the entirety of European culture have had to operate in a context that could not think power as female – except in grotesque terms.

Strategic Imaginations demonstrates that this constitutive tension can only be brought out by studying women’s political rule in a comparative and longue durée manner. The book offers a collection of essays that brings together studies of female sovereignty from the Polish-Lithuanian to the British Commonwealth, and from the Middle Ages to the genesis of modern democracy. It addresses historical figures and takes stock of the rich yet unsettling imagination of female rule in philosophy, literature and art history. For all the variety of geographical, social, and historical contexts it engages, the book reveals surprising resonances between the strategies women rulers used and the images and practices they adopted in the context of an all-pervasive skepticism toward female rule. 

Contributors: Marnix Beyen (Universiteit Antwerpen), Aude Defurne (KU Leuven), Ann-Kathrin Deininger (Universität Bonn), Maha El Hissy (Queen Mary, University of London), Anke Gilleir (KU Leuven), Ayaal Herdam (Université de Bordeaux), Josephine Hoegaerts (University of Helsinki), Elisabeth Krimmer (University of California, Davis), Jasmin Leuchtenberg (Universität Bonn), Joanna Marschner (Historic Royal Palaces London), Virginia McKendry (Royal Roads University), Jaroslaw Pietrzak (Pedagogical University Krakow), Maria Cristina Quintero (Bryn Mawr College), David J. Smallwood (Sciences Po Bordeaux), Beatrijs Vanacker (KU Leuven)

Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).

Format: Edited volume - paperback

Size: 234 × 156 mm

334 pages

ISBN: 9789462702479

Publication: December 15, 2020

Languages: English

Anke Gilleir is professor of German literature and gender theory at the Department of Literary Studies at KU Leuven.
Aude Defurne received her PhD in German literature in 2020 at KU Leuven.