Realms of Royalty: New Directions in Researching Contemporary European Monarchies

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Imke Polland/International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen

Call for Papers


Realms of Royalty: New Directions in Researching Contemporary European Monarchies

International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture│Justus Liebig University Giessen

20 & 21 April 2017

“I hope people will remember me as one who did her best - and who wasn't an anachronism.”

[Queen Margrethe II, Facebook Post on1 September 2014]


“But I see the world has changed. And one must modernise.”

[Helen Mirren, The Queen, 2006]

The latter quote by Helen Mirren in the film The Queen does not only hold true for the institutions of monarchy, but for research on monarchies as well, which has primarily been the ‘realm’ of historians. However, monarchies offer many starting points for exploring aspects that are of crucial interest to scholarly fields as varied as cultural, media and literary studies as well as sociology, law, political and economic science. The metaphorical concept of realms of royalty includes multifarious layers of meaning and opens up several fields of enquiry:

   Realm of possibilities: How do monarchies adapt to change, reinvent themselves and navigate between past, present and future to ensure the continuity of the institution? What are the possibilities of modern monarchies facing the loss of (political) importance, power, space, relevance, and popularity?

   Imaginary and medial realm: How do monarchies preserve their air of unattainability and of mystery sensu Walter Bagehot? How is the resulting gap of imagination filled by (semi-)fictional (re-)presentations of the monarchy? In how far do monarchical symbols invade popular culture? Are monarchies used as unique selling points?

   Realm of influence: How are the relevance and the contemporary roles of these seemingly anachronistic institutions negotiated? Where does the perpetual interest in monarchies stem from? How do royal personae function as (anti-)role models, celebrities, benefactors etc.?

   Institutional realm: How do legal innovations (e.g. acts of succession, royal marriage acts) affect monarchies and vice versa? What kind of (reciprocal) relationship between members of the royal family and politics is discernible?

   Geographical realm: How do geographical re-formations (e.g. the loss of former colonies) change the (self-)perception of monarchies? How do monarchies relate to national self-conceptions in a time of autonomy movements such as for example in Scotland, Flanders and Catalonia?

Employing metaphorical concepts is a way to investigate, structure and to theoretically approach complex cultural phenomena, such as institutional constructs like monarchies, which undergo processes of constant change or self-fashioning while at the same emphasising and drawing on their own constancy. They permeate cultural spheres, public events, people’s personal lives as well as media representations. Therefore, we suggest an approximation to all layers of meaning produced by and concerned with contemporary European monarchies by making the spatial metaphor of ‘Realms of Royalty’ productive.

In the course of this two day interdisciplinary and international conference, attempts will be made to go beyond historical perspectives and to explain, evaluate and make sense of the cultural phenomena that contemporary monarchies confront us with. By looking at the present state of monarchies as a space of negotiation we intend to map out and open up new perspectives and understandings of the domains of royal studies.

Possible areas of exploration include (but are certainly not limited to):

         Monarchies negotiating between past, present and future: tradition, rituals and modernisation

         Self-fashioning of monarchies: members of the royal family as (anti-)role models

         Fictional representations of monarchies (e.g. in literary, theatrical and filmic works)

         Royal events as media events: adapting to new media environments

         Royal symbols beyond the palace walls: sports, advertisements, music, art etc.

         Monarchies and commoners: social engagements, honouring, conferring of orders; opinion polls and changing attitudes towards the palace

         The current role and function of monarchies as institutions: duties, responsibilities and capacities

         Monarchy and politics: modern laws for modern institutions?

         Monarchies and their economic value: national brand, touristic sites, souvenirs

         Monarchies and the nation at home and abroad

         Norms and (gender) role expectations: the consort, heir apparent, family members etc.

We welcome proposals from early career researchers as well as established scholars. Please send an abstract of 250 words for a 20-minute paper and a short bio note to by 31 October 2016.