Ageing, Gender, and Illness in Anglophone Literature: Narrating Age in the Bildungsroman, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Ageing, Gender, and Illness in Anglophone Literature

Narrating Age in the Bildungsroman, 1st Edition

By Heike Hartung


252 pages

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pub: 2015-12-07
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This study establishes age as a category of literary history, delineating age in its interaction with gender and narrative genre. Based on the historical premise that the view of ageing as a burden emerges as a specific narrative in the late eighteenth century, the study highlights how the changing experience of ageing is shaped by that of gender. By reading the Bildungsroman as a 'coming of age' novel, the book asks how the telling of a life in time affects individual age narratives. Bringing together the different perspectives of age and disability studies, the book argues that illness is already an important issue in the Bildungsroman's narratives of ageing. This theoretical stance provides new interpretations of canonical novels, visiting authors such as Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Samuel Beckett, and Jonathan Franzen. Drawing on the link between age and illness in the Bildungsroman's age narratives, the genre of 'dementia narrative' is presented as one of the directions which the Bildungsroman takes after its classical period. Applying these theoretical perspectives to canonical novels of the nineteenth century and to the new genre of 'dementia narrative', the volume also provides new insights into literary and genre history. This book introduces a new theoretical approach to cultural age studies and offers a comprehensive analysis of the connection between narratology, literary theory, gender and age studies.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Concepts of Age and the "Burden Narrative" of Ageing 2. Early Stages of the Bildungsroman: Age, Gender and Illness in the Eighteenth-Century Novel 3. A Mature Genre: Ageing Processes in the Nineteenth-Century Bildungsroman 4. The Limits of Development? Old Age and Dementia Narrative 5. Concluding Remarks

About the Author

Heike Hartung is an independent scholar in English Studies, associated as research fellow and university lecturer at the University of Potsdam, Germany, and the University of Graz, Austria.

About the Series

Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature

This series is our home for cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to literary studies, it engages with topics such as philosophy, science, race, gender, film, music, and ecology. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / American / General
LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gerontology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Gender Studies