"With strange fantastic motions" : the development of the early Stuart antimasque
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This thesis charts the development of the early Stuart antimasque, from its origins in Elizabethan progress entertainments to its extended presence in the final Caroline masques. Scholarship has traditionally located the antimasque’s inception in Jonson’s 1609 Masque of Queens. Taking up Jonson’s description of the antimasque as a “foil or false masque,” critics have spoken of the antimasque in primarily negative terms, focusing on instances where it is wild, indecorous, or threatening. By focussing on a broader selection of masques written by a range of authors, my study addresses the tremendous variety inherent in the antimasque and its role as an essential element of the masque form. The body of my thesis offers a chronological study of the antimasque. Each chapter concentrates on the masques of a particular historical moment, exploring the antimasque- masque relationship through a series of emerging metaphors. Chapter One studies the antimasque’s precursors in Elizabethan progress entertainments. Chapter Two discusses the masques of the early Jacobean period in connection with the metaphor of the Golden Chain. Chapter Three applies Jonson’s foil metaphor to the Palatine wedding masques of 1613. Chapter Four addresses the labyrinthine imagery in the masques of Buckingham’s ascendency in the early 1620s. Chapter Five discusses the mirror metaphor within Charles and Henrietta Maria’s Neoplatonic paired masques of the early 1630s. Finally, Chapter Six explores the function of clouds in Davenant’s final Caroline masques. Rooted in a close reading of masque texts, the present study provides an “imaginative reconstruction” of a variety of masques to understand how their disparate elements produce a unified aesthetic experience. Rather than a simple binary opposition, the antimasque-masque relationship is continually regenerated according to cultural as well as political pressures, and its development is central to the progression of the masque form as a whole.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-05-24
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 24th May 2024
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