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Court masques were multi-media entertainments, with song, dance, theater, and changeable scenery, staged annually at the English court to celebrate the Stuart dynasty. They have typically been regarded as frivolous and expensive entertainments. This book dispels this notion, emphasizing instead that they were embedded in the politics of the moment, and spoke in complex ways to the different audiences who viewed them. Covering the whole period from Queen Anne’s first masque at Winchester in 1603 to Salmacida Spolia in 1640, Butler looks in depth at the political functions of state festivity. The book contextualizes masque performances in intricate detail, and analyzes how they shaped, managed, and influenced the public face of the Stuart kingship. Butler presents the masques as a vehicle through which we can read the early Stuart court’s political aspirations and the changing functions of royal culture in a period of often radical instability.Read more
- Presents a complete overview of the subject by covering the whole period 1603–1640
- Contextualizes the masques historically, relating them closely to the life of their times
- Contains both literary and political analysis, allowing the reader to consider both the cultural and political significance of the masques
Reviews & endorsements
"...[An] invaluable new book...Butler's characteristic combinations of meticulous historical scholarship with sensitive literary analysis and sophisticated political examination have made him one of our most important masque critics. His work reveals why the genre, far from being exhausted by its central position in New Historicist paradigms, becomes only more central as our understanding of seventeenth-century British history evolves...Patiently pursuing specifics where previous work has allowed the false teleology that misrecognizes 1630s dialogue as 1640s polemic, or that misrecognizes a particular masque's contextually specific tropes as generalized articulations of overarching ideological programs, this book retrieves the full scope of masques' politics...this book is so learned and teacherly at the same time-its panoply of historical discoveries and literary insights conveyed in such pleasurably readable prose-that it is hard to ask it for more."
-Lauren Shohet, Renaissance Quarterly
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- Date Published: February 2009
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9780521883542
- length: 462 pages
- dimensions: 235 x 159 x 29 mm
- weight: 0.86kg
- contains: 13 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Spectacles of state
2. Rites of exclusion
3. Rites of incorporation
4. The invention of Britain
5. The consort's body
6. The revival of chivalry
7. The dance of favour
8. The Jacobean crisis
9. The Caroline Reformation
10. The Caroline crisis
Appendix: A calendar of masques and entertainments, 1603–41.
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