Performance, politics, and religion: reconstructing seventeenth-century masque Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Laskowski, Eliza Fisher
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This dissertation revises the critical understanding of masque in the early modern period. While past scholarship has evaluated individual texts against the limiting formula of the "Jonsonian masque," I situate Jonson as but one of many writers working successfully in the genre. Moreover, although Stephen Orgel and others have provided invaluable insight into the political contexts of masque, I expand and supplement these arguments by considering the extensive social and artistic complexity of the form for its diverse range of writers, patrons, and audiences. As I demonstrate, the concept of variety is the constituent factor in the flexibility and diversity of masque during the seventeenth century. Finally, my dissertation introduces to masque studies several manuscripts-including Add. 10311, Enchiridion Christiados, and Royal 18 A LXXX, The Theater of Apollo-that I discovered in the British Library. By introducing the concept of aesthetic variety articulated by a majority of seventeenth-century masque writers, chapter one lays the foundation for re-evaluating the inherent complexity of masque. The second chapter explores the history and etymology of "masque" to postulate that, in the sixteenth century, masquing was inseparable from other forms of military display; it then traces the intersections of masque's martial iconography and English foreign policy in both early Stuart courts. Chapter three examines the increasing emphasis on pseudo-liturgical display in masque during the early seventeenth century, culminating in the masque's establishment as the secularized liturgy of state by the Caroline period. The final chapter further demonstrates the multifariousness of the genre by probing the multiple, often contradictory, reactions of country masque writers to the secularized, "popish" liturgy of the Caroline court masque - for instance, the strict adherence to The Book of Common Prayer lectionary calendar that grounds Enchiridion Christiados. In short, this dissertation foregrounds variety as the central element of both the masque's formal diversity and its socio-political potential to advise, critique, and defend as well as simply entertain. The masque is transposed from the domain of Ben Jonson, Inigo Jones, and the court to a genre of broad influence and importance to early modern culture as a whole.
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  • Barbour, Reid
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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