I hope you had a good spring break! When we return, we’ll dive into James I’s reign starting in 1603 and some of the spectacle that accompanied it. For the purposes of this class, that means we turn to the masque. When you come to class, please bring a brief response (1-2 paragraphs) on whatever interests you from the questions below, and write a question of your own at the end of the paragraph. Masques can be difficult nuts to crack, so it’s okay if your question is more basic. We’ll use your responses and questions for our discussion.
Write a response to any of the following after you do the reading and listening listed below these questions:
- What seems to be the relationship between the description of the set/scene in the masque and the role of poetry in the masque? What about the role of music and/or dance?
- What seems to be the purpose of the masque?
- Why do you think masques became so popular during James’ reign?
- How should we deal with and talk about the painting the masquers’ skin and the depiction of people from Ethiopia in this work?
Read the following:
- Introduction to James I, only need to read highlighted portions (approx. 2 pages)
- Introduction to Ben Jonson and to Masque of Blackness (3.5 pages)
- Masque of Blackness lines 1-74 and 236-277
- Selection from Mary Chan, Music in the Theatre of Ben Jonson, Clarendon Press, 1980 (approx. 6 pages–you can ignore the crossed-out sections)
Listen to the following and try to imagine how they would have looked and sounded in the context of the masque.
The only surviving song from Masque of Blackness, written by Alfonso Ferrabosco II, “Come away, come away”:
These examples of masque dances, two by Ferrabosco. The first two would have been part of the stately, slower measures dances. The final would have been part of the final dance, the revels, that concluded the masque: