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Reading MasquesThe English Masque and Public Culture in the Seventeenth Century$
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Lauren Shohet

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199295890

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199295890.001.0001

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(p.125) 3 Interpreting
Reading Masques

Lauren Shohet (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter develops a hermeneutics of the masque adequate both to the distinctiveness of occasional drama and to the qualities it shares with other kinds of literature and theater. This chapter analyzes two Jacobean court masques less to explore the assertion or fracturing of power than to unpack how multiple modes of authority performatively negotiate the conditions of their own practices. Case studies include Jonson's Irish Masque at Court and For the Honour of Wales. In both masques, efforts to use drama to stabilize authority are deconstructed by the rich ambiguity inherent to both language and performance, highlighted by occasional circumstances of King James's Scots‐English dialect and Prince Charles's status as inheritor of the title from his dead brother.

Keywords:   masque, Ben Jonson, James I, Prince Charles, stage dialect, hermeneutics, occasional drama, deconstruction, The Irish Masque at Court, For the Honour of Wales

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