The Queerness of Precocious Play in John Webster’s The White Devil

  • Bethany Packard


The child character Giovanni, in John Webster’s The White Devil, serves as a locus for reconsidering a monolithic sense of the Child and the heteronormative views of cultural reproduction it reinforces. As heir to two dukes, Giovanni’s position as guarantor of and vessel for patrilineal descent and linear temporal progression seems assured. However, this boy rejects his elders’ models of adulthood and masculinity. Webster depicts Giovanni as a quick-witted, precocious child whose unusually swift development does not align with the expected vertical trajectory of growing up. Kathryn Bond Stockton’s concept of growing sideways resonates with the character’s changeability, but recognizing Webster’s emphasis on Giovanni’s precocity introduces speed as a potential facet of queer children, in addition to their more frequent association with delay and lingering.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bethany Packard
    • 1
  1. 1.Transylvania UniversityLexingtonUSA

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