Pågående forskning • Current research

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Here you can find researchers and read about current research on Gustavus III and his time. To contribute, send us a message here and enter your name, department, university, and a project description.




Sara Ekström, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University

In my dissertation, I will examine the cultural projects launched by the Swedish Gustavian state (1772–1809) as part of its national identity politics. A premise for the analysis is that the Gustavian state was an absolute and self-proclaimed enlightened state, resulting in specific ways of viewing and governing the population.

During the 18th century, a new interest for the population emerged. A prosperous population was seen as the foundation of a flourishing state, and to govern the thoughts and behaviour of every individual became of utmost interest to the state. Michel Foucault has termed this way of thinking gouvernementalité, in English governmentality, and a keystone is that the government works through the free will of the individual.

In my research, I connect this new governmentality to the nationalism of the state, and thus view nationalism as a political technology for mobilizing and governing the thoughts and feelings of the population, and thereby their behaviour. This will be done by analysing different national cultural projects of the Gustavian state, directed towards different categories of the population.


Jennie Nell, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University

Monograph: A King Among the Muses: A Study of Dramaturgy, History, and Pedagogy in Gustavus IIIs Plays, Operas, and Carousels

Gustavus III (1746 – 1792) is known as the “theater king”, and his reign – the Gustavian Era – is among scholars frequently deemed to be “a brilliant epoch in the history of the Swedish stage” (Gustavian Opera, 1991). Previous research has shown that the king was deeply invested in the creation of a national Swedish theater (using international talents from the Continent) and that he employed a hands-on approach to the arts, especially drama, opera, and literature. He was also a playwright himself, writing fifteen plays and operas that came to fruition, of which the majority, albeit not all of them, were staged during his lifetime, another eighteen that today only exist in fragment form, as well as four plays written during his formative years as a child and adolescent, neither of them ever staged. He is well-known for having founded The Royal Swedish Academy of Music, The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, The Royal Dramatic Theater, The Royal Swedish Opera, and the Swedish Academy – all with the objective of the amelioration of the Swedish language and the establishment of a national artistic output and a national stage.