Reproducing Masculinities: Theatre and The ‘Crisis’ of the Adolescent

Martin Heaney

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis explores the relationships between theatre and ideas of male adolescence. It examines the historical influences and political ideologies that have shaped contemporary understandings of male adolescence and ways in which dramatists have represented them. This investigation will illuminate the function of theatre as a site where the processes of acquiring social and symbolical masculine identities are debated and interrogated.
The context for this discussion is generated by the English Riots of 2011 and related social issues such as youth unemployment and perceptions of urban male ‘delinquency’ and intergenerational ‘crisis’. It is shaped by an historic perspective that illuminates continuities between these contemporary phenomena and representations of adolescent ‘crisis’ of the Edwardian period.
The research undertaken is interdisciplinary. It draws on cultural materialist ideas of drama and theatre as sites where identities are contested and new constructions of age and gender are formed. It includes a discussion of the social geographies of young men from the 1900s onwards in spaces of labour, the home, the street and the theatre. This study also contextualises adolescence in relation to theories of masculinity and social histories of male experience developed in the twentieth century. It explores the different cultural and political influences that were directed towards the control of the male adolescent ‘body’ and the representation of young men by twentieth-century dramatists who advanced new ideas of masculine identity and sexuality. These interpretations are connected to a discussion of the influences of the cultural imaginary of Empire and the male social experience of war. These historic perspectives on the representation of male adolescences are put forward to challenge normative associations of young men with delinquency in the twenty-first century. They also indicate ways in which transitional spaces for young men in theatre, education, employment and in other social relationships can be re-imagined and re-constructed.

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Nicholson, Helen, Supervisor
Award date1 May 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 6 Jun 2017


  • Theatre, the Adolescent, Masculinity

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