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Learning to laugh : children and being human in early modern thought

Fudge, Erica (2003) Learning to laugh : children and being human in early modern thought. Textual Practice, 17 (2). pp. 277-294.

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Abstract

This essay explores the construction of the human in early modern English thought, and uses discussions of the nature and use of laughter as a distinguishing feature of humanity from classical arguments as well as early modern ones. Using these classical, reformed English discussions of education and of the nature of children reveals an anxiety about the status of the child. Laughing appropriately - using tile mind and not merely the body - is a key feature of being human, and as such, the child's lack of "true' laughter reveals that child's status to be never always-already human. "Human' is a created rather than merely a natural status.