Photo of Professor Sara Smart

Professor Sara Smart

Associate Professor (German)

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Telephone: 01392 724314

My research engages with the court culture of the Holy Roman Empire in the early modern period, particularly German-speaking, Protestant courts. The rich diversity of material has prompted different approaches and perspectives with my interests ranging from the stylization of those positioned at the apex of the court hierarchy, the ruling prince and his family (The Ideal Image: Studies in Writing for the German Court 1616-1706), to festive culture and its relationship to confessional identity. I have worked on the Singspiel and opera, court ballet and tournaments, occasional poetry and Festbeschreibungen, triumphal processions and emblematics.

I have been awarded a Senior Fellowship by the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Germany’s major research library for the early modern period, to support my present research into ‘Hohenzollern Consorts: Dynastic Women and the Rise of Brandenburg-Prussia 1613-1713’. This project focuses on the duties and depiction of the electresses of Brandenburg, later queens in Prussia, in a century that began in confessional confusion and the chaos of the Thirty Years’ War and ended with the establishment of the Hohenzollern monarchy in Prussia.

Research into court culture crosses disciplines and nationalities, as reflected in a major collaboration with Professor Mara R. Wade (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). Our co-edited volume The Palatine Wedding of 1613: Protestant Alliance and Court Festival explores the web of confessional interest and cultural exchange triggered by the marriage between Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James V/I and Anna of Denmark, and Elector Palatine Friedrich V.

Much of my teaching is embedded in this research context. I am offering a new Level 2 module, ‘Reformation and Rupture, the Sinner and the Saved’, to introduce students to the impact of the Reformation on the Empire and to early modern culture and art. My contribution to a final-year module on German propaganda focuses on the work of the Saxon court painter Cranach the Elder and his support for Luther as well as the variety of textual and visual images projecting the power of the Hohenzollerns.