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Martin Ashley

This article explores the existential status of ten to fourteen year old boys through a full time, research council funded study of young masculinity and voice. Drawing on the ideas of writers who have suggested this period can be a melancholic one, the article interprets qualitative data derived from boy singers and “peer audience” groups in schools. It is found that the voice does contribute to existential difficulties for boys concerned as much about being “not child” as “not girl” but unable to attain adult masculinity. The period is one of great cultural difficulty for young males and many avoid the issues. Yet the boys who enjoyed using their voices were the less prone to melancholia.

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"Real Boys" Don't Sing, but Real Boys Do

The Challenge of Constructing and Communicating Acceptable Boyhood

Martin Ashley

This paper describes a digital interactive book targeted at 10-14 year old boys which aims to educate about how the voice develops during puberty. The contents are based on a conventional print book for adults. The D-book has an advocacy as well as educative role—it attempts to argue in a “boy friendly” language that singing is part of a rounded and fulsome boyhood. It has had to consider carefully how this might be communicated to a potentially skeptical young audience. “Boy friendly” literature has been condemned by the critics of right wing recuperative masculinity politics. The paper therefore critiques the picture of boyhood that has been conveyed and discusses the justifications for the compromises that have been reached.

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Martin Ashley, Jürgen Budde, Andrew Calimach, Heather Ellis, Pauline Farley, Stephen T. Graef, Diederik Janssen, Amanda Keddie, Bertha Mook, Peter Redman and Maria Elena Reyes

For this, the sixth issue of Thymos, which will conclude its third year of publication and with a lively plan of upcoming issues already in place, I asked the members of our editorial board and all past contributors to Thymos to informally respond to this question: “As someone who has written about ‘the boy’ and ‘boyhood’, how do you conceptualize and define these terms as you begin to study and write about issues facing ‘boys’, in the cities, in rural settings, in schools, in various contemporary cultures?” I also suggested that the meaning of “the boy” and “boyhood” may, in fact, be the central issue of boyhood studies at this point. The question elicited eleven remarkably different responses, which follow.