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Flowering adolescence and the gendering of puberty
Victoria Sparey

This chapter explores the age-specific, horticultural terminology used to describe and understand adolescence in early modern culture. The chapter unpacks the language of adolescence as a ‘flowering’ and flourishing age, where experiences were understood in relation to an anticipated ‘ripeness’ and fruitfulness of adulthood. The chapter shows symmetry between male and female adolescence and draws upon evidence from a wide range of early modern texts to challenge assumptions about floral imagery being feminine or emasculating in early modern usage. The chapter explores the representation of Shakespeare’s numerous adolescent male ‘flowers’, not least Romeo as an esteemed rose, and posits that adolescent flowering, and associations with beauty, promise, and fragility were largely age-specific rather than gendered in early modern culture. The chapter identifies the common pairing of adolescent ‘flowering’ with the decline of old age to suggest how both positive and negative formulations of the life cycle made use of this cultural motif. In particular, the chapter shows how a disrupted trajectory of the life cycle could be suggested in ideas about premature rotting, where imagery of contaminated blooms and cankers (understood as caterpillars in a horticultural context) are used. The chapter argues, moreover, that the way in which blooms become corrupted realises gendered formulations. The chapter explores several of Shakespeare’s plays and offers extended analysis of Hermia’s representation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the lovely youth of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, to suggest how the positioning of the pubescent body and the pubescent subject becomes gendered.

in Shakespeare’s adolescents
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Edward Acton Cavanough

In 1564, the governor of Peru undertook an expedition to find this mysterious land of bounty, appointing Álvara de Mendaña de Neyra and Hernán Gallego as leads. In February 1568, they spotted the island they called Isabel. In the initial linguistic exchanges between the locals and the voyagers, the indigenous people appear to have acquired their first Spanish word: afuera, loosely translated as ‘get outside’ or ‘go away’. It was a refrain the Spanish explorers would soon hear regularly, shouted at them by Solomon Islanders who ‘wished to prevent [the Spanish] from exploring their country’. The Mendaña expedition is where the documented history of Solomon Islands commences, including the history of an island in the middle of the archipelago known locally as Savo. In the late eighteenth century, a distant world began to impose itself on the Savoans’ island home.

in Divided Isles
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Edward Acton Cavanough

Beyond Solomon Islands, the security pact crystallised the fears of international observers for whom documenting China’s ‘capture’ of Honiara had become a preoccupation. Throughout the rest of 2022, a cavalcade of commentators weighed in on Sogavare’s security deal, often stoking dire warnings in the Australian and international press about the country’s imminent descent into dictatorship. In August 2022 in The Australian, Cleo Paskal and Anthony Bergin coauthored an article detailing the ‘coup’ Sogavare was attempting to mount in Honiara. The catalyst for the article was Sogavare’s absence from a World War Two commemoration. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute investigation into China’s influence in the Solomons focused on traditional and social media and attempted to examine the efficacy of China’s influence activities in the wake of the November 2021 riots.

in Divided Isles
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Fertile complexions in Shakespeare’s plays
Victoria Sparey

This chapter examines the representation of pubescent beards and blushes in Shakespeare’s plays. The chapter considers evidence from early modern medical writings that connect sexual maturation with the overspilling of humoral heat and expulsion of moisture to register symmetry and differences in the symptoms ascribed to male and female puberty. Beard growth in adolescent boys is, the chapter explains, set in parallel with the onset of menstruation in girls. The chapter explores nuances regarding humoral alterations in the pubescent boy and reveals complications in assumptions about feminine facial complexions. The chapter unpacks how age disrupts conflations made between beardless boy players and sexually mature women and explores the subtle but significant distinctions early modern culture made between absent beards, growing beards, absent beards and apparent blushes, and pubic beards/hair. The chapter uses a range of Shakespeare’s plays and early modern sources, but the chapter particularly attends to the representation of beards in relation to age and gender in As You Like It, Coriolanus, and Twelfth Night. The chapter explores the staging practices and meanings involved in the adolescent blushes that are included in As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Measure for Measure.

in Shakespeare’s adolescents
Symmetry, difference, and gender in early modern constructions of adolescence
Victoria Sparey

The conclusion offers an overview of the book’s findings, drawing out where aspects of symmetry and difference have been observed in the representation of female and male puberty in Shakespeare’s plays and early modern culture. The conclusion considers a new ‘sign’ of puberty and evaluates the infrequency of allusions to skin complaints in relation to early modern adolescence. The conclusion assesses how and why certain signs of puberty are privileged in early modern culture and how these seem to insistently relate to reproductive assumptions ascribed to bodies. The conclusion also provides tentative conclusions about the trajectory of Shakespeare’s treatment of adolescence across plays performed from the 1590s to the 1610s. Recycled performance strategies and developments in representations of adolescence are connected to theatrical circumstance (including an ageing and changing theatre company) and changes in wider cultural, political, and medical discourses. The conclusion also uses these findings to highlight trends in the textual and performance afterlives of Shakespeare’s adolescent characters that span into the seventeenth century, where, for example, editorial interventions can be seen to modify the vivacity of Shakespeare’s female adolescents.

in Shakespeare’s adolescents
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Edward Acton Cavanough

Five months before Suidani’s appointment as premier, there had been a similarly complicated series of negotiations in Honiara for the position of prime minister. The national election was held in April 2019, but it would be several weeks before Manasseh Sogavare emerged victorious and once again assumed control of his nation. Meanwhile, Matthew Wale’s Solomon Islands Democratic Party, with eight MPs, forged a new grouping of its own, called the Grand Coalition. In making a case for the Switch, Fugui’s committee was not recommending anything out of step with much of the international community. Irrespective of whether the ultimate decision to switch from Taiwan to China was the right one, the murky process that led to such a major policy shift created discomfort in Solomon Islands. In May 2021, as Honiara’s presence in Beijing became formalised, Fugui was appointed Solomon Islands’ first ambassador to China.

in Divided Isles
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Solomon Islands and the China Switch

This book tells the story of Solomon Islands’ China Switch, its dramatic internal and regional consequences, the political machinations that led to it, and how a handful of Solomon Islanders have used this transformative, once-in-a-generation political event to accrue and wield political power. It is the story of Manasseh Sogavare and his fateful decision to accept the Switch to China, and how it transformed the country. It is the story of Daniel Suidani, and how his manipulation of the Switch thrust him from obscurity to global relevance. Solomon Islands is also the story of the Malaitan activists who have leveraged this political shift to revive a volatile, albeit improbable, quest for independence for their island. It relates how a byzantine web of Pacific business elites changed the political course of their nation in pursuit of commercial gain. And it is the story of how seemingly powerless islanders have the capacity to radically alter the trajectory of a fragile country and a region essential to Australia’s, and the world’s, security. The Solomon Archipelago is a place of joy and beauty. At the same time, it is host to centuries of grievance and tragedy. Enmities fuelled by ancient internal rivalries, colonial dispossession and exploitation, inadequate reconstruction after the Second World War, uneven economic growth since independence in 1978, and the ethnic tensions that gripped the country between 1998 and 2003 undergird cultural, economic and political discourse in contemporary Solomon Islands.

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Edward Acton Cavanough

Provincial governments across Solomon Islands sit awkwardly in between the powerful national government and highly autonomous and sovereign tribal communities. New Asia was aware that the Foufoumela community had an appetite for extractive projects. For decades, communities across East Fataleka, the Malaitan ward in which Foufoumela sits, had been home to a small-scale logging operation. Fataleka is a remote area largely isolated from neighbouring regions due to a lack of accessible roads, and it is where Suidani had his political start. Fataleka was also where Knoxley Atu was now residing, after his months of legal troubles in Honiara had begun to subside. The key bureaucratic check on public spending in the province was effectively ignored, which meant some of the spending of the provincial government was technically not allowed under national law.

in Divided Isles
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Edward Acton Cavanough

As the political ramifications began in Taipei, on the ground in Solomon Islands, Taiwan’s aid workers had more practical concerns. After years of integrating themselves into Solomon Islands society, they had been recalled to Taiwan almost overnight. One of Taiwan’s most popular initiatives had been its scholarship program. Taiwan had funded scholarships throughout its thirty-six-year relationship with Solomon Islands. Within days of the announcement of the Switch, Chinese interests had flooded Honiara and other parts of the Solomon Islands, in some cases trying to formalise partnerships with individuals with whom they had been engaging for years. With the Tulagi agreement emerging just weeks after the Switch, commentators critical of Sogavare’s China pivot pounced on the news. For Stanley Manetiva, the Tulagi lease saga was deeply hurtful, embarrassing and politically consequential.

in Divided Isles
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Edward Acton Cavanough

When the author was first sent to Solomon Islands on assignment for The Guardian, his mind was focused on the thrill of having been dispatched to the wilds of the South Pacific to cover arguably the region’s geopolitical event of the decade. First held in 1963, the Pacific Games, formerly the South Pacific Games, have become a central feature of the Pacific’s regional integration. Each of the Pacific Islands’ twenty-two countries, territories and associated states are involved. Then, Sogavare, the Chinese ambassador and representatives from the state-owned construction firm awarded the tender were present. A beaming Sogavare grabbed two shovels and tossed the soil, declaring the 2023 Pacific Games Stadium Project underway.

in Divided Isles