Silenced voices/speaking bodies : female performance and cultural agency in the court of Anne of Denmark (1603-19)
This study investigates the long-neglected cultural engagement of the court of Anne of Denmark, consort of James VI and I, revising her historiographical representation in the light of current gender theory. Focusing upon the masque performances of the English Jacobean court, I examine the genre's anomalous staging of Renaissance female performance and its contribution to the emergence of a more general female performance. Through detailed analysis of masque performances, I assess contemporary courtly attitudes towards female masquing and the performative representation of the courtly woman. This study is firmly interdisciplinary in its approach to female cultural production, investigating the texts of performance, embroidery, dance, patronage and commissioning, and religious and political engagement. This thesis breaks new ground in the detailed examination of the aesthetics of masque performance as tools of social and political engagement. This study decentres the anglocentricism prevalent in recent cultural criticism of the Jacobean court. My first: chapter traces Anne's life and performance in both the Danish and Scottish Renaissance courts, assessing the impact of these alternative models upon her cultural engagement. Chapters two and three continue the analysis of performance. The former discusses the danced performance of aristocratic identity and the way in which this facilitates female masque performance; the latter relates the performance of the female body in the major English Jacobean masques to performance space, costume and scenery. Tracing the line of female performance through the second decade of the seventeenth century, I analyse Robert White's Cupid's Banishment, the final masque of Anne's career. This reading encapsulates my discussion of female cultural agency through the autonomy of the Queen's court. Recycling memories of earlier performances, Cupid's Banishment stages disparate texts of female expressivity in a masque which contains perhaps the unique Jacobean staging of the female masquing voice.