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Symposium: "Privacy at Court?" (10-12 December 2020)

Centre for Privacy Studies

University of Copenhagen

10-12 December 2020

“Privacy at Court?: A Reassessment of the Public/Private Divide

within Early Modern Court Studies (1400—1800)”

The Centre for Privacy Studies and the Society for Court Studies are hosting an international symposium on “Privacy at Court?: A Reassessment of the Public/Private Divide within Early Modern Court Studies (1400—1800)”, to be held at the University of Copenhagen on 10—12 December 2020.

Grand, extravagant, magnificent, scandalous, corrupt, political, personal, fractious; these are terms often used to describe the medieval and early modern courts of Europe. Moreover, this dynamic location within the social world was central to the legitimacy and authority of the monarch or princely power, acting thereby as a machinery that shaped European politics and culture. Architecture, art, fashion, patronage and cultural exchanges relied upon and were influenced by the visual spectacle of European courts. Researchers have convincingly and innovatively emphasised the public nature of courtly events, procedures, and ceremonies. Nevertheless, court life also involved certain zones of privacy. Indeed, what was recognized as private at European courts? How were such privacies obtained or constructed within the court? How did practices of privacy impact political deliberations at court? How was privacy put on public display?

These and similar questions urge us to reassesses the public nature of the early modern European court and to reconsider our present-day understandings of privacy. Indeed, the emergence of court studies as a scientific area of investigation relied heavily upon sociological modes of explanation, political history, and cultural studies of, e.g., performance and ritualization. Can issues of courtly privacy be fitted into our existing models? Or do we have to reconsider models and their representations of court life, when we take zones of privacy into account? Such a reassessment will fertilize the grounds for a much broader discussion of the past and the future of court studies.

The conference provides researchers of court studies the opportunity to examine or reassess the role of privacy within European courts and court studies.


Privacy at Court? Reconsidering the Public-Private Dichotomy

Professor Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger

Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin/Institute for Advanced Study


The Monarch Exposed. Privacy in Practice at the Early Modern Court

Dr Dries Raeymaekers

Radboud University


Registration is open and free. The full programme can be access and found here.

Organizers: Dr Dustin Michael Neighbors, postdoctoral researcher and Lars Cyril Nørgaard, Assist. Professor with the Centre for Privacy Studies

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