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Boys at Gender-Play inside the Muscular Christian Ideal

Janet McDonald

Keywords: colonial masculinity; drama; elite boys’ schools; feminized; masculinized; muscular Christian; performativity; school curricula

In elite boys’ schools there is a level of anxiety about the perceived place of the curricular subject drama and how it might interact or interfere with the ironclad essentialist and homogenous masculinity promoted by elite all-boys’ schools. The feminization of the drama and the suspicion of males who “do drama” create a duplicitous tension for boys who take the subject as they walk the gendered tightrope between the expected public display of the “muscular Christian” and the tantalizing “drama faggot.” This paper offers some reflections about observations on and interviews with boys who “do drama” inside the male-only worlds of the Great Public School (GPS) of Brisbane, Australia. In these schools I observed masculinities were constantly disrupted (perhaps uniquely) in the drama classroom and explored by male drama teachers who provided a space in which to playfully interrogate the “muscular Christian ideal” of a boys’ school.

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