Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.

Document Type

Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Dr. Adam Zucker

Second Advisor

Dr. Jane Degenhardt

Third Advisor

Dr. Harley Erdman

Subject Categories

Dramatic Literature, Criticism and Theory | Literature in English, British Isles | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


This project identifies and analyzes the fop figure in early modern English drama and treats the figure as a vehicle that reveals the instability of conceptions of masculinity in the period. This project establishes a theatrical history of the character type. Although the fop did not emerge on the English stage as a stock character until late in the seventeenth century, antecedents and proto-fops appear across dramatic genres beginning in the late 1580s. Identifying these characters and deciphering their functions in plot and character development reveals, in part, how cultural anxieties about masculine codes of conduct were manifested. The project examines the spaces foppish characters occupied on stage between 1587 and 1615, specifically, the court, the battlefield, the academy, and the city. It argues that a man risks becoming a fop if he fails to adhere to codes that governed masculine conduct in these spaces. Affecting Manhood argues that foppishness was quite prevalent on the early modern English stage, showing up in the works of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson, Middleton, Chapman, Marston, Peele, and Fletcher among others. Chapter One traces courtier fops in that appear in staged court spaces as figures that reveal cracks in the social and political facade of the court as an institution. Chapter Two focuses on soldier fops and posits that excessiveness, an intrinsic characteristic of early modern fops, is also a major tenet of martial forms of masculinity, and so blurs the line between successful soldier and an effeminate fop. Chapter Three looks at the tradition of scholar fops within staged academies of learning to show the link between homosociality, homoeroticism, and effeminacy. Chapter Four turns to urban young men and the fops among them, claiming that foppishness and its accompanying effeminacies are constructed via the excessive use of particularly urban materials, such as clothing and young boys. Taken together, these specific fop figures become a critical lens for examining the shifting ideas about power and gender in early modern England.