Download the full-sized PDF of Becoming Youth: Coming of Age in Shakespeare and MarloweDownload the full-sized PDF



Permanent link (DOI):


Export to: EndNote  |  Zotero  |  Mendeley


This file is in the following communities:

Graduate Studies and Research, Faculty of


This file is in the following collections:

Theses and Dissertations

Becoming Youth: Coming of Age in Shakespeare and Marlowe Open Access


Other title
early modern girls
early modern youth
queer theory
Marlowe, Christopher
early modern adolescence
Shakespeare, William
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Prusko, Rachel
Supervisor and department
Hart, Jonathan (English and Film Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Verdicchio, Massimo (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Epp, Garrett (English and Film Studies)
Bowers, Rick (English and Film Studies)
Demers, Patricia (English and Film Studies)
Novy, Marianne (English, University of Pittsburgh)
Department of English and Film Studies
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
While studies in Renaissance childhoods, literary and historical, are becoming more prominent, this work has failed to distinguish between children and adolescents, leaving youth, as such, largely unexamined. My project attends not to the children of early modern drama, but to post-pubescent characters in their teen years, and argues that many plays literalize the ‘re-naissance’ of teenagers (‘adolescents’ or ‘youths’ in early modern England), reimagining what it meant to be young during a period when discourses surrounding youth were already clearly, yet crudely, defined. This thesis is a historicized analysis of young characters in several plays: Marlowe’s Edward II, and Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. I argue that these plays intervene in the standard definitions so frequently applied to teenagers during the early modern period. The perception, on the one hand, of youthful behavior as violent, reckless, and rash was commonplace: Protestant preachers and moralists of the day insisted that young people were naturally prone to sin, rebelliousness, and unruly behavior, and so required strict regulation. On the other hand, optimistic portrayals of youth abounded as well: the age of youth was associated with hope and beauty as often as it was with folly and sin. These dual perspectives were rudimentary types, broadly construed and indiscriminately applied. My dissertation works to account for the presence of highly nuanced, individuated, and agential teenaged figures in the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe in the context of this widespread yet limited perception of youth. The literary text, I claim, both participates in and works to disable discourses of youth in the period.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
Citation for previous publication
Prusko, Rachel. "'Who hath got the right Anne?’: Gossip, Resistance, and Anne Page in Shakespeare’s Merry Wives.” The Merry Wives of Windsor: New Critical Essays. Eds. Evelyn Gajowski and Phyllis Rackin. New York: Routledge, 2014. 51-60.

File Details

Date Uploaded
Date Modified
Audit Status
Audits have not yet been run on this file.
File format: pdf (PDF/A)
Mime type: application/pdf
File size: 1794159
Last modified: 2015:10:12 13:14:19-06:00
Filename: Prusko_Rachel_201408_PhD-1.pdf
Original checksum: 046afaaf5133f980cd2966b62f3d70d6
Activity of users you follow
User Activity Date