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everydayjam

everydayjam

The Premodern Teenager: Youth in Society, 1150-1650

The Premodern Teenager: Youth In Society, 1150 1650 - Konrad Eisenbichler This is a fascinating look at the conception and meaning of adolescence in the middle ages. Although the word "teenager" is of modern coinage, the concept of a middle time, between childhood and full adulthood, is not new, at all. The essays in this book look at who was considered to be in this liminal state, at different times and places, what their societies expected of them, and thought of them, how long that period was considered to last, and which members of society were allowed to benefit from the conception. For instance, based on ancient Roman categories, in medieval Italian cultures, a young man might be considered an adolescent well into his 30s, if not 40s, and not considered a full adult until his 50s. A young woman of the same society might, however, benefit from a much, much shorter period of adolescence.

It was a very interesting read, especially in light of contemporary headlines about boomerang children, "failure to launch", and "slacker" generations. Restricting adolescence to only the teen years may be a very modern idea.