This essay collection develops new perspectives on constructions of old age in literary, legal, scientific and periodical cultures of the nineteenth century. Rigorously interdisciplinary, the book places leading researchers of old age in nineteenth-century literature in dialogue with experts from the fields of cultural, legal and social history. It revisits the origins of many modern debates about aging in the nineteenth century – a period that saw the emergence of cultural and scientific frameworks for the understanding of old age that continue to be influential today. The contributors provide fresh readings of canonical texts by Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, Henry James and others. The volume builds momentum in the burgeoning field of aging studies. It argues that the study of old age in the nineteenth century has entered a new and distinctly interdisciplinary phase that is characterized by a set of research interests that are currently shared across a range of disciplines and that explore conceptions of old age in the nineteenth century by privileging, respectively, questions of agency, of place, of gender and sexuality, and of narrative and aesthetic form.
Introduction Katharina Boehm, Anna Farkas and Anne-Julia Zwierlein Part I. Science, Social Reform, and the Aging Body 1. A Respectful Challenge to the Nineteenth-Century’s View of Itself: An Argument for the Early Modern Medicalization of Old Age Lynn A. Botelho 2. "Exhausting the powers of life": Aging, Energy and Productivity in Nineteenth-Century Scientific and Literary Discourses Anne-Julia Zwierlein 3. Gender Perspectives on the Elderly in Town and Countryside in Victorian England Nigel Goose 4. The Unnatural Youth of the Old "New Woman" Teresa Mangum Part II. Intergenerational Exchanges 5. Transatlanticism and the Old Indian: Old Age and Cross-Racial Mentorship in Narratives of National Belonging Katharina Boehm 6. Freedom of Testation in Victorian England Rebecca Probert 7. "Senile" Sexuality Karen Chase 8. "Are You Learning to Grow Old?": "Aging Well" with the Help of The Girl’s Own Paper, 1880 to 1900 Jochen Petzold Part III. Transformations and Appropriations of Victorian Old Age 9. Inventing the "Aging" Shakespeare in the Nineteenth Century: A Counterfactual Reading Gordon McMullan 10. Active Aging in the Community: Laughing at/ Thinking about Victorian Senescence in Arnold Bennett’s The Old Wives’ Tale and its Theatrical Afterlife David Amigoni 11. Old Age and the Great War: J. M. Barrie’s Plays about the British Home Front Anna Farkas 12. The Double Standard of Aging: On Missing Stendhal in England Helen Small Epilogue Pat Thane