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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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Horizons of the Masque

Horizons of the Masque

Chapter:
(p.37) 1 Horizons of the Masque
Source:
Reading Masques
Author(s):

Lauren Shohet (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199295890.003.0002

This chapter shows that mid‐ and late‐ seventeenth‐century booksellers' catalogues designate public theatrical masques, Interregnum closet pieces, and Restoration operas as “masques.” Masques were more than nonce works, instead retaining commercial appeal long past their performance dates. This chapter cross‐reads masques from different venues, contained within plays, intertextually mentioned in pageants, parodied in ballads, and recorded in gossip. Masques' habitual intertextual allusiveness contributes to the genre's self‐conscious explorations of how drama constitutes authority, their canniness contradicting New Historicist symptomatic readings. Case studies include two intertextually related masques of 1617–18 (White's Cupid's Banishment, produced by a London girls' school, and Jonson's courtly Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue); a cluster of 1630s masques of temperance (Milton's Ludlow masque Comus, Davenant's courtly Luminalia, Thomas Nabbes's public theatrical masque Microcosmus, Thomas Heywood's Lord Mayor's show Porta Pietatis); and Shirley's spectacular 1634 Triumph of Peace.

Keywords:   masque, masques in plays, Interregnum, closet drama, Restoration drama, ballad, Cupid's Banishment, Ben Jonson, Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue, Milton, Mask Performed at Ludlow Castle, Comus, William Davenant, Luminalia, Thomas Heywood, Porta Pietatis, Lord Mayor's shows, James Shirley, Triumph of Peace, New Historicism

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