Re-assessing the Early Modern Court: Connection, Negotiation and Transgression
2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Norbert Elias’ The Court Society, which placed the early modern court at the center of a long civilizing process wherein the king exercised social control over and imposed emotional restraint upon his courtiers. While his methods and conclusions remain contested, Elias called attention to the role of the court in both early modern and modern society. Since the publication of The Court Society scholarship on the court has proliferated, yet we still tend to treat the court as a closed and controlled system with elaborate means of monitoring behavior and excluding outsiders.
This panel seeks to break open the early modern court by focusing on the court as a point of contact rather than a realm of separation. We welcome papers that examine relationships between courts and courtiers, as well as those that analyze the intermingling of social strata or connections between the court and civic or religious authorities. The panel also seeks to illuminate the ways in which fields such as critical gender, race, and sexuality studies and transnational studies have changed the ways in which we approach the court. What roles did servants and slaves play at court? How did courts function in non-European contexts, and what effects did international trade, diplomacy and colonization have upon court structures?