Learning to be Boys: Reading the Lessons of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost and Marston’s What You Will

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This essay focuses on the lessons of Love’s Labour’s Lost’s pageboy-schoolboy-boy actor, Moth, to examine the production of boyhood in early modern culture. It reads Shakespeare’s boy character alongside John Marston’s schoolboy, Holofernes Pippo, in What You Will to investigate the ways in which school lessons might be deployed to produce aged and gendered identities that complicate traditional understandings of early modern masculinity. Reading the comic staging of lessons in these plays, it will suggest that while the educational system aimed to produce gendered subjects, early modern masculine identities exist as a range of categories on a developmental scale. It will propose that although Moth and Pippo comically expose the limits of many pedagogical methods to produce ‘men’, they demonstrate the ways in which these characters learn to be boys. Finally, it will consider the extent to which this production of early modern age and gender identity in the plays is paralleled by the historical boy actors performing these roles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationYoung Shakespeare
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016
EventCongrès 2015 de la Société Française Shakespeare: Young Shakespeare - Paris, France
Duration: 19 Mar 201520 Mar 2015

Publication series

NameActes des congres de la Societe francaise Shakespeare
ISSN (Electronic)2271-6424


ConferenceCongrès 2015 de la Société Française Shakespeare

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