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March Digital Seminar

March 2024


Seminar:  The  Material Culture of Queens and Queenship - 

Employing Digital Research Methods

Dustin M. Neighbors, University of Helsinki























In the premodern world, queens and royal women were agents, producers, and users of material objects – from artwork, literature, music, architecture cultivated through the patronage of artists, artisans, and architects, to dress, textiles, and artefacts crafted for their use, and so much more. As such, material culture not only defined aspects of queenship and power of royal women, but was also crucial to the practice of queenship and contributed to the reputation and identity of queens, princesses, dowagers, and more. Yet all too often, we find that the material objects of queens have not survived or is not accessible to researchers for study. This leaves a gap in our understanding of the everyday social practices of royal women and queens, as well as the conditions, position and enterprise of queenship.


This presentation will discuss the ongoing research that employs various digital research tools to examine and reconstruct the material culture of queenship and royal women. Particular focus will be on the material culture of specific female figures including the clothing and objects of Queen Christina of Sweden (1626–1689) and Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533–1603), and the buildings and physical environments of Electress Anna of Saxony (1532–1585) and Queen Sophie Amalie of Denmark (1628–1685).


The aim of this presentation is to illustrate the benefits of utilising digital methods for historical research in the field of royal studies provides unique vantage points from which to access and assess the lived experiences of queens and royal women, and their role over time and place by restoring and/or visualising the material objects of queens and royal women that were destroyed or that have been lost to time.



Ellie Woodacre


Seminar Timetable

17:00 – 17:10: Introduction (Chair)

17:10 – 17:55: Presentations

17:55 – 18:15: Q&A


Presenter bio

Dr Dustin M. Neighbors is the Project Coordinator and a Postdoctoral Researcher for the Horizon EU funded project, Colour4CRAFTS, at the University of Helsinki and is a visiting researcher with the Department of Philosophy, History and Art at the University of Helsinki. Dustin completed his PhD at the University of York in 2018, under the supervision of Dr John Cooper. As a historian of England and Northern European history, Dustin specialises in the history of monarchy and court culture, with an emphasis on female power and the performativity of gender, material and political culture, cultural practices and activities (i.e., hunting) within the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the employment of digital methods of analysis within historical research.

Previously Dustin was a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Fashion History Lab at Aalto University and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Privacy Studies at the University of Copenhagen where he was part of a case team focusing on early modern Dresden. He currently serves as the Administrator and Digital Content Officer for the Royal Studies Network, along with serving as chair of the European branch of the Society for Court Studies. In 2022, he was awarded a Janet Arnold Grant from the Society of Antiquaries to pursue the study of early modern hunting garments, parts of which are featured in the seminar presentation.

Dustin has published in several journals, with several more coming out shortly, including an upcoming article on the meanings of colour and dress at royal and princely courts. He is the lead co-editor of the edited collection Notions of Privacy at Early Modern European Courts: Reassessing the Public/Private

Divide, 1400-1800 with Amsterdam University Press, coming out in March 2024. He is also the co-editor of the upcoming edited collection The Embodied Court in the Premodern World: Understanding the Physicality, Performativity and Lifecycle of Bodies at Court in Europe and Beyond.

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