Class Project: THE MASQUE OF BLACKNESS costume design by Rosie Ruzzi

English major Rosie Ruzzi’s costume design for Ben Jonson’s THE MASQUE OF BLACKNESS features rich textiles and a nautical theme.

English major Rosie Ruzzi created this costume design for a “Daughter of Niger” in Ben Jonson’s The Masque of Blackness (1605) as part of a research project on the role of women in Renaissance court theatre. Her project looked at the limited public roles available for women in the Jacobean era, and how the Queen and her court ladies used masque performances at court to display themselves as independent women participating in global politics. Her design features Queen Anne’s use of blackface to represent perceived British superiority to the  racial Other, as well as rich textiles available only to the aristocracy, and the nautical theme Jonson employed as a metaphor for the new British colonialism. Popular at the Jacobean court, performances like The Masque of Blackness were lavish displays of wealth and power.


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