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[Extract] This chapter provides a case study of how power in the early modern period can be fruitfully analyzed as a gendered experience by drawing upon recent approaches to performativity and materiality. It does so through a study of Catherine de Medici (1519–1589), the queen consort, regent and mother of three kings, who dominated French political and cultural life in the latter half of the sixteenth century. An analysis of Catherine’s performances of power that derived from participation in processes of creation, production, consumption and exchange of materiality in particular spaces, and its reception, provides an important case to which we can apply these theorizations to the gender experiences of an individual of considerable influence in the early modern period. It argues that texts regarding material productions were actively constructing Catherine’s engagement with objects and power. Creative and practical control, and the queen’s power, status and authority, were constructed rhetorically as well as in the material artefacts themselves. These were, thus, rhetorico-material performances of power.


Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences

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