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Fashionable Queens

Body – Power – Gender

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Edited By Eva Flicker and Monika Seidl

The essays collected in this book provide profound insights into the wide-ranging topic of the fashionable queen: the manifold implications and effects that the combination of body, power and gender can have are examined by using different approaches and a variety of theoretical frameworks. By addressing queenly appearances in the past and the present, in politics and the media, in royalty and the middle-classes, in the arts and in popular culture, this book offers a new way of thinking of publically significant women, who exert, and at the same time subvert, their power through their attires and thereby negotiate notions of gender, class, power and media representation.
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Productive Illegibility: Gender, Monarchy and Self-Creation in the Histories, Images and Fictions of Queen Christina Vasa of Sweden: Griselda Pollock

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Productive Illegibility: Gender, Monarchy and Self-Creation in the Histories, Images and Fictions of Queen Christina Vasa of Sweden

Griselda Pollock

Abstract

One of the most famous roles performed by Greta Garbo was Queen Christina, based on the Swedish ruler (1632–54) who was a remarkable, highly educated, intellectual and yet athletic woman. Later in her life, she moved to Rome and lived a complex and highly visible life, opening an academy for learning, protecting Roman Jews and protesting the persecution of Protestants. There is an abundance of visible representation of Christina in and out of Sweden. In 1933, Rouben Mamoulian directed Greta Garbo in a historical costume drama loosely based on the life of the Queen. Christina was transformed by Garbo’s cross-dressed and gender-ambiguous appearance and was given a secret love story to account for her departure from Sweden. The historical archive and the cinematic representation of this queen raise important questions about the collision of the monarchical and the feminine body as well as the contestation of both as sites of self articulation between the early modern monarchies and the cinematic romanticisations of royalty.

The final sequence of Rouben Mamoulian’s Queen Christina (MGM, 1933) is a lingering, ever tighter, close-up of the face of Swedish actress Greta Garbo, who plays the film’s eponymous heroine, Christina Vasa, as she stands in the prow of a departing ship.

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