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Title: Carnival, comedy and the Commedia : a case study of the mask of Scaramouche
Author: Knapper, Stephen P. J.
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 1998
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Acknowledging the provenance of the mask of Scaramouche in carnival, this thesis employs a critical framework drawn from the work of one of that phenomenon's major theorists, the Russian philologist, Mikhail Bakhtin. It specifically tests the hypothesis that the mask embodies Bakhtin' s criteria of carnival- laughter, both mocking and regenerative. First by charting its evolution as a parasite or servant role in the professional theatre of the socalled commedia dell 'arte in early seventeenth-century Italy. A comparison between the myth of its most famous exponent, Tiberio Fiorilli, and his material history exemplifies the hypothesis by establishing his social position as a type of court jester. The satirical functions of the mask in French society are then examined, focussing particularly on its influence upon the theatre of Moliere in its fluctuation betwen the roles of servant and master. It is argued that the carnivalesque qualities of the mask represented the continuation of a heterodox opposition to absolutist containment, and these dialogic properties are emphasised in its history throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which is marked by a hybridisation into different artistic genres. It is demonstrated how the mask became inextricably associated with revolution through the popular fiction of Rafael Sabatini and cinematic adaptations thereof. Finally its attraction to the Italian avant-garde is seen in the closing decades of this century, returning through the mask to a cultural politics echoing the utopian project of carnival.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neapolitan theatre; Fiorilli Literature Mass media Performing arts