Writing through Boyhood in the Long Eighteenth Century: Age, Gender, and Work

Cover: Writing through Boyhood in the Long Eighteenth Century: Age, Gender, and Work
Chantel Lavoie

November 2023 • ISBN 9781644533208 • $150.00

November 2023 • ISBN 9781644533192 • $42.95

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Writing through Boyhood in the Long Eighteenth Century explores how boyhood was constructed in different creative spaces that reflected the lived experience of young boys through the long eighteenth century—not simply in children’s literature but in novels, poetry, medical advice, criminal broadsides, and automaton exhibitions. The chapters encompass such rituals as breeching, learning to read and write, and going to school. They also consider the lives of boys such as chimney sweeps and convicted criminals, whose bodily labor was considered their only value, and who often did not live beyond boyhood. Defined by a variety of tasks, expectations, and objectifications, boys—real, imagined, and sometimes both—were subject to the control of their elders, and used as tools in the cause of civil society, commerce, and empire. This book argues that boys in the long eighteenth century constituted a particular kind of currency, both valuable and expendable—valuable because of gender, expendable because of youth.

About the Author

Chantel Lavoie is a full professor in the Department of English, Culture, and Communication at the Royal Military College of Canada. Her first monograph was Collecting Women: Poetry and Lives, 1700–1770 (2009). She has also published two collections of verse: Where the Terror Lies (2012) and This Is about Angels, Women, and Men (2021), and her first historical novel, about chimney sweeps in the eighteenth century, is forthcoming. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.