From 18-20 November 2016, the Gloriana Society held its inaugural conference at the majestic Tower of London. After a year of planning, the conference organisers greeted over 90 delegates per day from around the world. The countries represented were: South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Norway, Hungary, Greece, Canada, the United States and all parts of the United Kingdom.
The conference featured more than 65 original and dynamic presentations across a broad spectrum of disciplines, including history, art, literature, theatre, film and television, music, religion and politics. New research was presented during three simultaneous panels throughout the day. It highlighted the growing interdisciplinary nature of Elizabethan studies and its continuing growth and importance.
In addition to these presentations, three keynote speakers provided their own unique contributions. These speakers, who are renowned within Elizabethan studies, were: Dr. Tracy Borman, chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces; Dr. John Cooper, principal investigator of the St. Stephen’s Chapel Project and Senior Lecturer at the University of York; and Professor Carole Levin, Willa Cather Professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The proceedings began early Friday morning with a welcome to conference delegates over coffee and pastries, and then the panels began. At mid-morning, the conference delegates gathered to listen to Dr. Tracy Borman speak about the “Private Life of Elizabeth I.” At lunch, delegates had the opportunity to meet the Most Hon. Marquess of Salisbury, who spoke eloquently about the importance of Elizabethan studies and his own role as a custodian of Elizabethan records and manuscripts within the Hatfield House archives. The hum of excitement and vibrancy continued to increase throughout the day as delegates chattered passionately about new discoveries and approaches. Finally, the first day ended on a high with delegates planning to continue their camaraderie over dinner before attending the special Ceremony of Keys.
Sessions on the second day added to the growing collection of innovative research presented the day before. At lunch, the Gloriana Society had the opportunity to present some special gifts and awards to individuals. The Great Jewel Member, an award created by the Gloriana Society founders for individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the society, was presented to Josh Robson (Events Manager at the Tower of London), Dr. John Cooper and Professor Carole Levin. Next the presentations for the Douglas Slater Postgraduate Prize for Best Paper was awarded to Alicia Meyer and Nicole Lamont for second place and to Rebecca Hasler for first place. Special honourable mentions were bestowed to Dr. Elena Woodacre and the University of Winchester/Royal Studies Journal, and Professor Jackie Eales, Canterbury Christ Church for their partnership with the Gloriana Society. The ceremony ended with a raffle draw: prizes were donated by Oxford University Press, National Portrait Gallery, Dr. Angela Ranson, Dr. John Cooper, Dr. Tracy Borman, and Professor Carole Levin.
After the afternoon panels, Dr. John Cooper delighted delegates during a public lecture that explored the “Impact of Elizabeth I.” After a break to allow some commemorative photos and preparations, the inaugural reception and banquet began. At promptly 6:15pm, delegates were guided by a yeoman warder, Kevin, through the grounds of the Tower of London, before being escorted into the White Tower. Guests walked through the exhibits that highlighted Britain’s glorious past on a red carpet. Many stopped to take photos and enjoy the unique opportunity to view these items without a crowd. After climbing the stairs, guests were greeted with champagne and Elizabethan music from Nouvelle/ Ancienne, a group of York graduates who have advanced degrees in historical performance. At 7:00pm, a yeoman warder announced dinner was served and guests moved to take their places for an elegant two-course meal. They were served coq au vin, then a dessert of white chocolate banana-peanut bread and butter pudding with chocolate sauce, and finally petit fours and coffee. After that, the audience remained for a second programme of music from Nouvelle/Ancienne.
On Sunday, delegates heard the last two simultaneous panels of the conference, which demonstrated the diversity of the conference: the two panels discussed law, crime, music books and music making. At mid-morning everyone attended the closing keynote speech from Professor Carole Levin. By noon everyone had left the Tower, but enthusiastic tweets and posts about the Gloriana Society’s inaugural conference have continued.
In the past year, the Gloriana Society has managed to host its inaugural conference, produce its first newsletter, partner with 7 institutions and organizations, secure an honourary patron and gain over 215 members. However, we are not finished yet. With plans under way for the 2018 conference, we have a number of projects in the works, and none of this would be possible without our fantastic supporters, members and delegates
Therefore, we thank each and every one of you. We hope that you will continue to follow us as we support emerging scholars and established academics in the field of Elizabethan studies, and create a place that fosters a dialogue between academics and enthusiasts.
(All Photo Credits: Lucinda Pope)