Introduction: Queer(ing) Children and Childhood in Early Modern English Drama and Culture

  • Jennifer Higginbotham
  • Mark Albert Johnston


The introduction analyzes the various historical and contemporary significances of early modern cultural representations of children and childhood in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries through the lens of queer theory. It lays the groundwork for a discourse of early modern queer childhood studies, engaging with current critical discussions about queer children in the works of queer theorists such as Lee Edelman, James Kincaid, and Kathryn Bond Stockton. Interrogating the significance of premodern constructions of childhood queerness, the editors analyze the respective relevances of narratological, performative, and linguistic ideals and functions; categorical blurring and liminality (age, complexion, physiological development, etc.); temporal and spatial alterity; erotic subjectivity, objectivity, and agency; and differentiations as well as transformations of sex, gender, genre, class, status, race, (dis)ability, humanity/animality, and more. Ultimately, the chapter asserts that queer childhood studies might usefully maintain a productively anachronistic openness both to how children and childhood might have signified as queer for early modern culture, and how those representations might strike us as queer today.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Higginbotham
    • 1
  • Mark Albert Johnston
    • 2
  1. 1.Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of EnglishUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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