Growing Old in Early Modern Europe: Cultural Representations, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Growing Old in Early Modern Europe

Cultural Representations, 1st Edition

Edited by Erin J. Campbell


260 pages

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The goal of the twelve essays in this volume, contributed by scholars in the fields of history, literature, art history, and medicine, is to enrich our understanding of cultural discourses on ageing in early modern Europe. While a number of books examine old age in other eras, and a few touch on the early modern period, this is the first to focus explicitly on representations of ageing in Europe from 1350-1700. These studies invite the reader to take a closer look at images of ageing; they show that representations are embedded in specific communities, life situations, and structures of power. As well, the book explores how representations of old age function in various and often surprising ways: as repositories of socio-cultural anxieties, as strategies of self-fashioning, and as instruments of ideology capable of disciplining the body and the body politic. Since this book is about how old age as a cultural category was produced and maintained through representation, the essays in this volume are organised thematically across geographic, disciplinary, and media boundaries to foreground the politics and poetics of representational strategies. The contributors to this collection show that our understanding not only of ageing, but also of power, subjectivity, gender, sexuality, and the body is enriched by the study of cultural representations of old age. Through sensitive and sophisticated readings of a wide range of sources, these papers collectively demonstrate the formative influence and generative force of images of old age within early modern European culture.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. Part I Appropriating the Ancients and Representing the Aged: Medical representations of old age and the influence of non-medical texts, Daniel Schäfer; Time's whirligig: images of old age in Coriolanus, Francis Bacon, and Thomas Newton, Nina Taunton; Youth, old age, and male self-fashioning: the appropriation of the anacreontic figure of the old man by Jonson and his 'sons', Stella Achilleos. Part II Aging at Court: The problem of old age in The Book of the Courtier, Maria Teresa Ricci; Aging the Lover: The lyrics of George Gascoigne's Posies, Kevin P. Laam. Part III The Aging Self: 'Should I as yet call you old?' Testing the boundaries of female old age in early modern England, Aki C.L. Beam; Thematic reflections on old age in Titian's late works, Zbynek Smetana. Part IV Power, Fragility, and Anxiety: Visible signs of aging: images of old women in Renaissance Venice, Mary E. Frank; 'Unenduring' beauty: gender and old age in early modern art and aesthetics, Erin J. Campbell; Cosimo's black widow, Allison Levy; Sans wife: sexual anxiety and the old man in Shakespeare's plays, Philip D. Collington. Selected bibliography; Index.

About the Editor

Erin Campbell is Assistant Professor at the Department of History in Art, University of Victoria, Canada.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature