Since starting the Queenship and Power series in 2006, Carole Levin has published 36 books that explore the strategies women have pursued to wield political power in male-dominant societies.
In her newest book, “Scholars and Poets Talk About Queens,” the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Willa Cather Professor of History and director of Medieval and Renaissance Studies features primarily Nebraska contributors, taking a unique approach to a well-covered topic.
Of the scholars, poets and playwrights that submitted work to the volume, 11 have been affiliated with Nebraska universities, including four UNL alumni, four current grad students and two faculty including Levin, and one faculty member from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
“It’s a hugely Nebraskan project, and that’s so exciting,” Levin said.
The book explores a group of well-known queens, including Catherine of Aragon, Mary Stuart, queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I, with scholarly essays and creative writing pieces. That’s an unusual mix for a scholarly book series, Levin said.
“Each of the 12 essays are matched with poetry or short plays,” Levin said. “It links creativity with scholarly activity, so it’s not just research, but also contemporary works of today, reflecting on those queens.”
When Levin started work on the new volume, she hadn’t planned on having such a Nebraska-centric group of contributors, but after she reached out to former student Christine Stewart–Nunez, associate professor of English at South Dakota State University, to be her co-editor on the project, the pieces fell into place.
“(Christine) and I found the creative writers — three of whom were UNL alums and one of whom, Grace Bauer in a Professor of English — who we asked to do creative pieces to go with the essays.”
Though Levin and Stewart-Nunez were aware of each contributor’s talents, none of the material has been published previously.
“A few years ago I taught a graduate seminar on queenship and this led to the four essays by UNL graduate students in the collection,” Levin said. “I also asked leading scholars in the field to participate.
“In some cases we knew they had already written creative pieces that would work well; in most cases they produced the work specifically for the volume.”
Levin said the mix of essays and creative writing, along with the subjects chosen, make the book accessible to a large audience.
“It’s a nice mix of mythical, historical and literary subjects,” she said. “The queens are well-known in various ways.”
The book was published by Palgrave Macmillan on Aug. 19 in hardback and a paperback edition is expected in March.