1st Edition

Growing Old in a Better World Age and Ageing in the Utopian Imagination

By Robert Troschitz Copyright 2025
    312 Pages
    by Routledge

    As utopias question social ills and express human wants and unfulfilled dreams, they offer insights into the problems, desires and ideals of a certain time. This book uses this lens to examine cultural representations of ageing and old age in utopian writings from the Renaissance to today.

    The individual chapters offer detailed analyses and interpretations of numerous utopias from Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) to contemporary science fiction. Through close readings, the book explores age-related fears and ideals and investigates how perceptions of ageing and the life course as well as attitudes towards older people have developed over the centuries. Covering a large time span and a broad range of different utopias, the book identifies long-term developments and also puts certain dreams such as that of ever-lasting youth into a wider perspective. It thus enriches both our understanding of the cultural history of ageing as well as the history of utopian thought.

    The book will appeal to scholars and students from the fields of cultural gerontology and utopian studies, as well as literary studies and cultural history more generally.

    1. Introduction

    Part 1: Old Age and Ageing in Early Modern Utopian Thought

    2. Old Age in Medieval and Early Modern Times

    3. Thomas More’s Utopia: A Haven for the Old?

    4. Living the Long Life

    5. Age, Authority and the Social Order

    Part 2: Industry, Progress and Age

    6. Growing Old in Industrial Times

    7. Age and Ageing in the Utopian Worlds of Robert Owen and Charles Fourier

    8. The Institutionalisation of the Life Course and the Pleasures of the Post-Work Life in Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward

    9. Growing Old in an Epoch of Rest: William Morris’s News from Nowhere

    10. H. G. Wells, the Utopian Tradition and the Question of Age     

    Part 3: Disillusionment and New Utopian Desires

    11. Ageing and Old Age in the 20th and 21st Centuries

    12. Brave Old Age: Aldous Huxley’s Dystopian and Utopian Visions

    13. New Dreams, New Age?: Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time

    14. Contemporary Utopias and the Future of Ageing

    15. Conclusions


    Robert Troschitz is a cultural studies scholar whose research focuses on British cultural history, utopian literature and representations of ageing in popular culture. His previous books include Higher Education and the Student: From Welfare State to Neoliberalism (2017) and Age Matters: Cultural Representations and the Politics of Ageing (2020).