Research Project: Women's Biographies: Literariness and Gender in Early Modern Life Narratives of Female Sovereigns

Project leader
Maren Eckart
Project Members
Project Period
Project Status
This project focuses on early modern biographical german texts of female sovereigns. It analyzes the construction of gender roles of the respective time period to investigate whether there existed the biography genre of female sovereigns. Since the main purpose of this study is to analyze the narratival and gender-related structural elements in the construction of female sovereigns in biographies, theories and concepts from narratology and gender studies will be used. This study will also show to what extent early modern biographers could employ a literary style and on what ideas they based their narratival structures. The genre biography is difficult to define as biographical texts are neither factual history writing nor pieces of fiction. The focus of this study lies on the narrative, on how a person's life is reconstructed. Certain female European sovereigns are selected and it will be discussed how representations of these women in early modern German texts (in original and in translations) re-construct their lives. There is a great number of life narratives of, for example, the English Queen Elizabeth I, the Swedish Queen Christina, the Austrian Empress Mary Theresa, and the Russian Empress Katherine but few of these German life narratives have been read. It is therefore crucial to archive this material and to highlight these numerous but otherwise forgotten texts by analyzing them. Considering the political position and status of the female sovereigns and considering that within the biography genre the emphasis lies on life narratives of “Great Men,” an analysis with a gender perspective is called for. This study will therefore analyze the discourse of gender and power when relevant.
The project has two parts with separal publications.
Part I: a study about the life narratives of the Swedish Queen Kristina in different kind of texts and media.
Part II: Life narratives about famous European Queens with focus on the genre biography.
levnadsskildringar, narratologi, tidigmodern tid, gender, biography, narratology, gender, early modern time
Research Profile
Intercultural Studies
Riksbankens FOA