16 de diciembre de 2016

CfP: The Politics of Bodies at the Early Modern Court (DHI Paris)

The Politics of Bodies at the Early Modern Court
Organizers: Regine Maritz (Cambridge University, DHI/Paris), Eva Seemann (Unversität Zürich), Tom Tölle (Princeton University)
As a space of elite sociability and cultural representation the early modern court shaped and produced bodies that were as specific to their environment as they were political. Life at court was constructed around a vast variety of exercises and bodily activities, starting with meals and other forms of everyday sociability, followed by riding, hunting, games, dancing and a number of festivities in the annual court calendar. Whereas the body of the prince was at the centre of most of these practices, the ruler can also be seen to be standing on a continuum with noble peers and other members of the court. Everywhere at court, differences in status were produced, represented and mediated not only by clothing and other status-related attributes, but also by means of posture, beauty, health and physical appearance. Such bodily aspects contributed to a new figure, the courtier, that increasingly gained currency in early modern concepts of masculinity. At the same time, body images such as that of the Landesmutter became more central to political discourse. Well into the 18th century, preceptors, confessors, doctors, barbers, apothecaries and valets were concerned with the beautiful, healthy and sick bodies of the princely family, but they also cared for some of the court staff.

How can we write the history of the court as a history of the body? What implicit and explicit corporeal knowledge was specific to the early modern court? And in what ways did bodily practices at court differ from those elsewhere?

Building on recent innovative contributions to a renewed court history that point to the entanglement of politics and cultural practices, the workshop seeks to shed new light on bodies and bodily practices at the intersection of politics, medicine and gender. We understand the workshop to be a forum for young researchers working in the fields of court history, political history and the history of the body. Participants are invited to discuss one or more of the following aspects.
I. (Extra)ordinary Bodies: What was peculiar about the healthy, beautiful, or the ideal body of a courtier? How did the speaking about the ideal body affect and shape corporeal norms and requirements? If standards with regard to the courtier exist, how can their relation to the body of the prince be described? How did norms and practices change over time? And how were people with unusual bodies such as dwarfs, giants or hirsutes integrated in court society?
II. Gendered Bodies: How were gendered bodies shaped and produced in court life? What bodily practices were required from both men and women at court, and which, if any, gendering aspects did they have? Does the monarch or prince always have to perform his masculinity more determinedly than other courtiers? To what extent can prince or princess allow themselves occasions of gender non-conformity? Finally, in what ways do constructions of gender and power intersect in and on the courtly body?
III. Frail Bodies: What effects did life at court have on the wellbeing of women and men and what body practices were seen to promote or affect the health of court members? Could courts make people sick, or, could proximity to the monarch and noble sociability restore health? And when and how did court critique become more or less medicalized? What discourses about healing and medicinal practices were available at court? What roles did confessors, healers, physicians, surgeons, midwives and apothecaries take on?
The workshop will be taking place at the DHI Paris on the 29th and 30th of May 2017.
Contact Info: 
To apply please send an abstract of your presentation (20 min) of no more than 300 words to bodiesatcourt@gmail.com by the end of January 2017. Please include a short CV as well as information about the language you would like to present in (French/English).
Organizers: Regine Maritz (Cambridge University, DHI/Paris), Eva Seemann (Unversität Zürich), Tom Tölle (Princeton University)
Contact Email: bodiesatcourt@gmail.com