Queering Gender, Age, and Status in Early Modern Children’s Drama

  • Lucy Munro


This chapter explores the “queerness” of children’s performance, focusing on the capacity of plays originally performed by early modern boys’ playing companies to render social and behavioral conventions malleable and ambiguous. Exploring three plays dealing with sexual transformation, The Maid’s Metamorphosis, George Chapman’s May Day and Thomas Randolph’s Amyntas, it argues that children’s drama presents both femininity and masculinity as contingent and subject to malfunction or glitch. Moreover, the unstable gender identities of individual characters spill out into broader aspects of social life, such as age and class. These plays may indulge in fantasies of bodily integrity, but the ubiquitous presence of the boy actor means that they also demonstrate the arbitrary relationship between gendered and sexed bodies, subverting and complicating normative hierarchies and structures.



This chapter has benefitted hugely from the editorial help and advice of Jennifer Higginbotham and Mark Johnston and an anonymous reader for Palgrave Macmillan. I would also like to thank Robin Craig and Gemma Miller for valuable conversations about early modern queerness and the queer child that have helped to shape it. Very early versions of this material were delivered at the Renaissance Society of America annual conference in Miami (2007) and the University of Manchester (2009); many thanks to Sarah Beckwith, Daniela Caselli, and everyone who attended those papers and offered comments and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucy Munro
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s College LondonLondonUK

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