Women and Sovereignty

Women and Sovereignty

Women and Sovereignty

Women and Sovereignty

Excerpt

In the last two decades, the study of women and power has constituted one of the most groundbreaking areas of cultural analysis inspired by feminist theory and historical scholarship. This volume aims to contribute to, and extend, this field of inquiry by outlining and pursuing several interrelated problems. Its essays share a conviction that historical and cultural approaches to sovereignty have been, and will remain, inadequate until they explore how forms of sovereignty produce and are produced by the cartographies of gender relevant to their cultural circumstances. Sovereignty, simply, does not exist apart from gender; sovereignty serves and pursues ends through the matrix of cultural constructions of gender, and it becomes a means of perpetuating and transforming those constructions. But these essays go further. They argue that the practice of sovereignty depends on the use of both the "masculine" and the "feminine," in fact that sovereignty is established not only through the elaboration of these constructs-- whereby, for example, king and queen might be taken as "masculinity" and "femininity" in the register of the absolute or the ideal--but also through the dislocation and fluidity of these constructs. Sovereignty is a site of gender-transgression and crossover, although it does not necessarily follow that sovereignty has revolutionary designs on gender constructs; most often the ultimate effect of the plasticity of gender in the field of sovereignty is the celebratory confirmation of "difference".

In consequence, these essays argue, the role of queenship in shaping relations of domination and subordination has been not only specific but central and critical. For example, though I will argue in my essay on "Sovereign Love: The Wedding of Margaret Tudor and James IV of Scotland" that Margaret's royal entry wishfully enacted her domestication through pageants of consent, her transformation thereby into Queen of Scotland enabled an . . .

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