Many historians associate adolescent pleasures and subcultures with the mid-twentieth century. Sensations and their personifications, this article suggests, also formed a focus for commentary and experience during the second half of the nineteenth century and the years leading up to the First World War. There was a noisy public discussion around adolescence in New Zealand in which notions of sensation and pleasure played a key role. In scrutinizing a number of young, sensation-loving characters—larrikins and larrikinesses, mashers, dudes and the flapper—the discussion considers the intersections of social changes (urbanization and gendered work and leisure), cultural influences (literature and language), the significance of gender, and anxieties over morality and propriety. The making of New Zealand adolescence, I suggest, involved broad social transformations as well as the local rearticulation of internationally-inflected cultural ideas about sensation and its social control.


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pp. 994-1020
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