Drawing on broad research, this study explores the different social and theatrical masking activities in England during the Middle Ages and the early 16th century. The authors present a coherent explanation of the many functions of masking, emphasizing the important links among festive practice, specialized ceremonial, and drama. They elucidate the intellectual, moral and social contexts for masking, and they examine the purposes and rewards for participants in the activity. The authors' insight into the masking games and performances of England's medieval and early Tudor periods illuminates many aspects of the thinking and culture of the times: issues of identity and community; performance and role-play; conceptions of the psyche and of the individual's position in social and spiritual structures. Masks and Masking in Medieval and Early Tudor England presents a broad overview of masking practices, demonstrating how active and prominent an element of medieval and pre-modern culture masking was. It has obvious interest for drama and literature critics of the medieval and early modern periods; but is also useful for historians of culture, theatre and anthropology. Through its analysis of masked play this study engages both with the history of theatre and performance, and with broader cultural and historical questions of social organization, identity and the self, the performance of power, and shifting spiritual understanding.
Prize: Winner of the 2004 David Bevington Award for Best New Book in Early Drama Studies. The award was presented at the AGM of the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society on 7 May 2004 at the International Medieval Congress, Kalamazoo. 'Twycross and Carpenter make an indispensable contribution to our understanding of the subsequent masque form, as well as this form's inflection in the plays of Shakespeare, Jonson, and other notable early modern dramatists….Fully supplied with apt illustrations, and cognizant of current revivals of pre-modern theatrical traditions, Twycross and Carpenter provide us with a theoretically astute and scholarly responsible study that should be consulted, not only by those interested in the history of medieval and Tudor masks and masking, but by every student of the subsequent Stuart masque.' Early Modern Literary Studies 'Evidently a labour of love and the product of over 20 years' research…fascinating, packed with information, illustrated with acute precision and written with true enthusiasm.' Plays International Magazine 'Meg Twycross and Sarah Carpenter have collaborated on a superb new study of medieval English masking practices that "seeks to historicize and contextualize the moments and patterns of mask-wearing in the Middle Ages." The detailed knowledge and use of source materials throughout is particularly impressive; the thirty-one-page bibliography, the numerous figures and illustrations, and the detailed index evince the scholarly completeness of this book and make it, at the same time, accessible and useful.' Sixteenth Century Journal 'Theater historians and practitioners will find the book to be a reliable index of masking evidence scattered about in medieval and Tudor historical chronicles, literature, theological and political commentaries, as well as in civic, guild, ecclesiastical, and state record… The index is exhaustive and accurate and the bibliography is a compendium of writing on the field. The breadth of the research is indeed staggering.' Renaissance Quarterly '… Masks and Masking in Medieval and Early Tudor England represents one of the most comprehensive and intelligently realized examinations of medieval and early modern masking practices in many years. The work's wealth of literary and historical evidence - brought together by two such astute and eminent specialists - will prove an invaluable reference for future studies in medieval and early modern English drama and theatre history.' Medium Aevum 'This research is the most comprehensive, detailed, and authoritative work to appear on the topic of masking in Medieval and Tudor England. It is stunning in its breadth and depth of detail that is brought to bear on extemely pertinent questions that are not only relevant to the period under investigation but also to masking traditions at other times and in other places.' European Medieval Drama 'Overall, this book is so well designed and clearly organized that it should become an often-consulted, classic reference work about its subject. The bibliography comprises nearly eight hundred items, while copious explanatory footnotes provide additional information not covered in the body of the argument… The many black-and-white figures and plates […] are uniformly clear, effective, and relevant illustrations of masks and disguises treated in the book. The lucid prose style will delight readers and the author's wise decision to avoid grounding the argument in trendy contemporary discourses guarantees a long and much consulted shelf life for this work… This is one of the most thoughtfully argued and carefully documented books on any subject I have ever read.' Speculum
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Popular Masking: Early masking; Carnival; Mumming; Courtly Masking: Tournaments; Disguisings; Courtly mumming; Amorous masking; Theatrical masking: Mystery plays; Morality plays; Theory and Practice: Ideas and theories of masking; Materials and methods of mask-making; Terminology; Bibliography; Index.