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Taken from Amy Saunders’ ongoing PhD research entitled ‘Construction, Deconstruction, and Reconstruction: Stuart Kings and Queens in Heritage’, this seminar will explore the reconstruction of seventeenth-century royal history and royal art collecting within modern heritage sites in England and Scotland. It will focus on five recent temporary exhibitions which were hosted at a variety of venues including The Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Queen’s Gallery in Edinburgh between 2017 and 2021. Using these reconstructions, this seminar will examine a variety of themes including gender, self-fashioning, identity, religion, female agency, and patronage. 

It will show that these exhibitions reflected not only the institutions within which they were created but also their own locality, arguing that these reconstructions of the seventeenth-century past can be seen to be influenced by modern local and national political agendas. By examining the representations of three monarchs, James VI & I, Charles I, and Charles II, as well as their respective wives, Anna of Denmark, Henrietta Maria, and Catherine of Braganza, this seminar will also discuss how heritage sites could be seen to Other seventeenth-century royal women due to their religion, foreign origins or fertility. 

Exploring modern reconstructions of royal narratives in Scottish and English heritage sites allows for comparisons to be drawn between these representations, but also contributes to challenging Anglo-centric historiography and heritage discussions around the seventeenth-century Stuarts. Finally, this seminar will also examine how these spaces implicitly suggest that art collecting is related to positive personal attributes and successful kingship, even in the face of execution and extreme criticism. 

Key Words:
Heritage, Stuart, Gender Studies, Museums, Royal Studies

Amy Saunders is a third-year part time PhD Student in History at the University of Winchester, under the supervision of Dr Ellie Woodacre and Dr Simon Sandall. Amy successfully passed her upgrade in 2021 and has recently been developing the section of the thesis which comparatively examines the representation of the art patronage of the three Stuart royal couples who form the basis of the thesis, which has provided the inspiration for this paper. Amy has published multiple books reviews with the Royal Studies Journal, as well as an article in the same journal on the representation of Christina of Sweden’s gender and sexuality in heritage and fiction. Amy also co-authored a review of the Kings and Queens 9 Conference in the Court Historian and is a Student Ambassador for The University of Winchesters Centre for Gender Studies. 

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but booking in advance is required.