Marriage, Performance, and Politics at the Jacobean Court constitutes the first full-length study of Jacobean nuptial performance, a hitherto unexplored branch of early modern theater consisting of masques and entertainments performed for high-profile weddings. Scripted by such writers as Ben Jonson, Thomas Campion, George Chapman, and Francis Beaumont, these entertainments were mounted for some of the most significant political events of James's English reign. Here Kevin Curran analyzes all six of the elite weddings celebrated at the Jacobean court, reading the masques and entertainments that headlined these events alongside contemporaneously produced panegyrics, festival books, sermons, parliamentary speeches, and other sources. The study shows how, collectively, wedding entertainments turned the idea of union into a politically versatile category of national representation and offered new ways of imagining a specifically Jacobean form of national identity by doing so.
'The book is handsomely researched, written, documented, and organized… Curran negotiates the uneven terrain comprising literary analysis, social history, and theater-performance studies very well, sensibly focusing on the masques themselves in his attempt to make them living texts for us.' Seventeenth-Century News 'In Marriage, Performance, and Politics at the Jacobean Court, Kevin Curran gives an account of his rhetorical topic that will be valued by anyone interested in the Stuart masque and in the changing language of politics in James's reign.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'This book takes us through a lively, ideologically complex period of Jacobean history, offering fine-grained close readings of entertainment texts and thoughtful considerations of how national and international political factionalism, influential courtiers and the Elizabethan iconographical and political inheritance all contributed to shaping the Jacobean marriage masque.' Review of English Studies '… an excellent study of a major dramatic genre.' Notes and Queries