This is not every night : space, time, and group identity in the Jacobean court masque
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This dissertation explores the relationship between space, time, dramatic narrative, and group identity in the Jacobean court masque. In early 17th century England, the court masque was a high-profile and multimodal seasonal event for the nation’s royal family and their court. Critics have recognized many of the ways the masque bonded this group together, but have not shown how its cohesive power manifested in individual masques. Following critical consensus, this dissertation first shows how all masque events, regardless of their particular elements and contexts, involved courtiers in embodied experiences of group inclusion, socio-political hierarchy, and royal favor. Next, in a series of case studies, this dissertation shows how three Jacobean masques tapped into these experiences in order to orient the court around various human centers, namely King James I, Queen Anna, Prince Henry, and Gentlemen of the royal Bedchamber. These case studies demonstrate how masques used dramatic narrative to engineer group experience and group identity, specifically by making meaning out their own socio-political realities in space and time. In general, then, this dissertation envisions the court masque as a highly self-referential form of participatory drama and social partying that worked to shape group identity by collapsing the court’s present realities into its socio-politically meaningful dramatic fictions.