My dissertation is titled "The Philosophic Game: Eighteenth-Century Masquerade in German and Danish Literature and Culture." Masked balls were one of the most popular forms of entertainment in eighteenth-century Europe, and appears frequently as a motif in the period's literature and arts. Analyzing court journals, newspaper reports, and works of art in combination with literary and philosophic texts, I present a picture of masquerade as experienced and as imagined by eighteenth-century participants and observers in Danish and German lands. I argue that the apparent triviality of masked balls belies the complicated rule systems that governed them, and that the motivations for its performance are tied to many of the era's concerns, raising questions about the individual's place in society, and the individual's relationship to sex, class, and nationality. In the first chapter, "The Rules of the Game," I trace the origins and influences of masquerade in Northern Europe, and explore the complex systems of conventions and publicized rules that governed this reputedly carnivalesque practice. I analyze how masquerades are organized and discussed by writers such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and consider participants' motivations in light of philosophic texts by Ludvig Holberg and others. The second chapter looks at the masquerade's reputation as a "Wunder-Land" (Carl Gustav Heräus), especially as it appears in comedies by Holberg, Johann Elias Schlegel, and Theodor Körner. Here the masquerade appears as a kind of Foucauldian heterotopia, where everyday norms are suspended and personal liberty can be expressed. The third chapter, on the other hand, tackles the masquerade as a site of "Misfortune" in terms of potential moral and sexual danger, particularly for women. I focus on two longer prose works by Sophie von La Roche and Charlotte Dorothea Biehl that contain pivotal scenes of masquerade. In the final chapter, I analyze the "afterlife" of the masquerade in nineteenth- through twenty-first-century historical fiction. In each chapter I follow case studies of masquerades held during the Struensee period at the court of Danish King Christian VII. Throughout the dissertation, I consider how masquerade and the discourse surrounding it relate to contemporary notions of metaphorical "masquerade."
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2012. Major: Germanic studies. Advisors:Rembert Hüser, Poul Houe. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 213 pages.
Wallen, Anne Beryl.
The philosophic game: eighteenth-century masquerade in German and Danish literature and culture..
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