Gabby Storey is part of of the organizing committee for the next Kings & Queens 7 Conference at Winchester, UK in July 2018, and will tell us a bit more about what we can expect from the conference. She is also a PhD researcher at the University of Winchester, working on four queens and how the relationships between mothers and daughters-in-law in the emerging Angevin empire, 1135-1216 affect diplomatic and political power. Her research interests are queenship, gender, and sexuality in Western Europe, with particular emphasis on the Anglo-Norman world. Gabby also works as a layout assistant for the Royal Studies Journal, so there is also that connection…
Please make sure to include #KQ7 on social media, and follow the conference on the same hashtag if you cannot be there!
Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: Hi Gabby! Thanks for giving this interview for the organizing committee! First, the conference is back home again, after being “on tour” the last three years. Could you tell us a bit more how being on tour changed the conference series, and what it means to you all, organizing the conference back in Winchester?
Gabby: Hi! The conference being on tour has really opened it up to the academic community around the world, and has brought such a range of papers and topics to each conference. It’s gone from strength to strength! Bringing it back to Winchester is a lovely homecoming for us as organisers, and gives new delegates the chance to see the country it started in, and what it means to us having it in a historically royal city. It was also important for us to have some extra special events for our delegates, the highlight of which will be the first day at Hampton Court Palace. We’re really looking forward to it!
Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: The organisation of such a conference is always a difficult matter with a lot of coordination, planning, and stressing out over problems going on. Could you tell us a bit more about how you are doing it this year, e.g. who else is in the organisation committee, or how you divided all the work? And especially, this year includes some quite interesting add-ons to the normal sitting in lecture halls and discussing royal studies – could you please elaborate a bit on this?
Gabby: Sure! It has been great this year as there are quite a few of us on the committee to share the load. When we had the initial meeting to propose the theme of ‘Royal Sexualities’ we were very excited to see what response we would have, and we had over 120 abstracts submitted. The conference committee had a meeting at Hampton Court Palace to organise the first draft programme and plan our day at Hampton Court. Ellie [Woodacre] has been overseeing and directing us all, taking the lead with programming, and working with Gordon [McKelvie] on funding which is why we were able to give so many of our postgraduate students and ECRs bursaries to attend the conference. Katia [Wright] has been overseeing the logistical side of the conference with transport and administration, Sarah [Stockdale] is our promotional guru and Karl [Alvestad] and myself have been organising the play, registration and all the email enquiries! Matthew [Storey] and Edward [Legon] from Historic Royal Palaces have been taking care of all the organisation for Hampton Court, and will be joining us at Winchester for the rest of the conference, which has been a wonderful mixture of heritage and history. We also have a specialist conferences team at Winchester who have organised the catering and accommodation for all our delegates, and they have been an amazing support. Special thanks must go to the University of Winchester and the Society for Renaissance Studies who gave us funding for the bursaries. We’ve combined this all with our other responsibilities but having such a supportive committee has made the process very enjoyable!
One of the new events for this year is the ‘Pitch a Project’ workshop, where we’re inviting all delegates who are interested in finding collaborators for grant funding and/or publications to come together and discuss ideas for future projects. The conference series Kings and Queens has led to several edited volumes and the creation of the Royal Studies Journal so we really want to encourage people to work together on their research. We’re also putting on a staged reading of a fantastic play on the life of Elizabeth by Carole Levin, which will see our very own conference delegates taking part. The big event for us is the day at Hampton Court: we have behind-the-scenes tours, a special heritage roundtable and a keynote from Professor Anthony Musson who is head of research at Historic Royal Palaces.
Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: Hampton Court will be an exciting treat this year! We are really looking forward to this.
Can you tell us a bit more about the state of research in Royal Studies in the last few years, and especially in England? What is your impression about the Royal Studies Network and the conference series as multiplicator for this field of research? Also, how does being a modern monarchy reflect on this field?
Gabby: Research in Royal Studies is still growing in abundance which is fantastic to see. What is really fascinating is the growth in global monarchical studies which our very own Ellie Woodacre has edited a volume on (A Companion to Global Queenship, ARC Humanities) coming out later this year, as well as the collaborative volumes which span a wide geographical breadth. Within England we have a very strong royal studies group of scholars, from the Anglo-Saxons through to the present day, and I think the fact we still have a modern monarchy allows us to retain that connection to the past. We can always think about how things have changed – the recent royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the birth of Prince Louis are national events which bring all us royal studies enthusiasts together!
The Royal Studies Network is great for bringing scholars together from around the world, be it on a collaborative volume, the RSJ or the conference. It is a wonderfully supportive group of scholars, and the continued publication successes, as well as the panels at Kalamazoo, Leeds and ANZAMEMS show the global outreach of what the Royal Studies Network does. It pulls together a range of researchers, working on any aspect of royal studies to discuss and collaborate and it goes further and further every year. It’s a really exciting group to be a part of!
Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: This global outreach is simply shown by the conferences you named, which are on three different continents! Now we only need to find conference to connect in Asia and Africa (and maybe South America)… So, in the conference next month: what can we expect? What is planned, and what should we absolutely not miss when visiting Winchester – both for people who have been already to Winchester, and for first-timers?
Gabby: You can expect a massively diverse range of papers – this year’s theme was Royal Sexualities and our delegates have really shown us what a wide range of research there is out there on this topic! So look forward to lots of discussions around LGBTQ+ history. We’ve also had some great panels put together by other scholars which gives us full day strands: so there’s something for every royal studies scholar. The day at Hampton Court Palace is really not to be missed – it’s open to delegates and the public, and gives us a sneak peek at lots of hidden histories. The tours that we’ve organised are great! The sessions start in full swing at Winchester on 10 July through to the 12th, and we have a wine reception, the pitch-a-project workshop, the play and a ‘Renaissance Lovers’ roundtable to look forward to. The conference is a mix of scholars from all levels around the world, and the public facing events are an exciting way to stimulate lots of discussion around royal studies.
Winchester has one of the largest cathedrals in Europe which I highly recommend visiting – the nave is beautiful and it has a crypt which can be explored. It is also surrounded by beautiful gardens. We also have the Great Hall, which is all that remains of Winchester Castle, and it contains a replica of King Arthur’s roundtable. Essential viewing for any medieval scholars as the castle dates back to William I!
Cathleen, Kristen & Elena: Just as an addition: when visiting the Cathedral, look for the grave of Jane Austen which is in the nave. I quite remember starting my first paper in Winchester with a famous quote from her, and discovering the day before that she was buried there!
Gabby, thanks for doing this interview! Is there anything you’d like to add?
Gabby: We really hope that everyone who attends enjoys the conference, and do follow us on Twitter for those that can’t attend as we will be live-tweeting throughout under #KQ7. Hopefully it will be the beginnings of several new publication and research projects, and we are planning a special edition of the Royal Studies Journal open to anyone who presents at the conference. A lot of hard work has gone into the conference so it will be a delight to see how it progresses, and we look forward to hearing everyone’s fantastic research next month! Thank you for doing this interview for the Royal Studies blog!