This edited collection considers the ways older women’s life narratives redefine culturally imposed conceptions of what it means to grow older. Drawing on research from age studies as well as social and cultural gerontology, the contributors explore the subjective accounts and diverse voices of older women. In doing so, they examine the tensions between older women’s social identities versus their individual narratives.
In their chapters, the contributors acknowledge, explore and contextualise women’s experiences of growing older, thus counterbalancing the often one-sided, negative representations of ageing perpetuated by dominant cultural discourse. They focus on diverse forms of life writing including memoirs and (auto)biography, digital and visual forms of life narrative as well as autoethnographic accounts. As the chapters in this collection demonstrate, life writing by and about older women often necessitates opening out literary forms and modes of critique, searching for narrative and performative strategies, and creating spaces in which to inscribe subjective experiences. Relationships, intergenerational connections, and visual and material cues are often integral to these analyses, which assert the richness of older women’s life narratives.
The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Life Writing.
Table of Contents
Women and Ageing: Private Meaning, Social Lives
Margaret O’Neill and Michaela Schrage-Früh
1. Contemplation as Resistance to Ageism, and Its Historical Context: Mexican Writers Carmen Boullosa, Guadalupe Nettel, and María Rivera
2. Ageing, Creativity, and Memory: The Evolution of Erica Jong’s Literary Career
3. From Girl to Grotesque: Exploring the Intersection of Ageing, Illness, and Agency in Auto/biographical Narratives about Seventies Icon Farrah Fawcett
4. "A View from Old Age": Women’s Lives as Narrated Through Objects
Leonie Hannon, Gemma Carney, Paula Devine and Gemma Hodge
5. Reading Film with Age Through Collaborative Autoethnography: Old Age and Care, Encounters with Amour (Haneke, 2012), Chronic (Franco, 2015) and A Woman’s Tale (Cox, 1991)
Rita Ferris-Taylor, Jane Grant, Hannah Grist, Ros Jennings, Rina Rosselson and Sylvia Wiseman
6. Grace and Grit: The Politics, Poetics and Performance of Ageing as a Woman
7. Writing Life and Death Online: "I’m Not Sure How Many More Days I’ll Have on the Computer"
8. Now that I’m Old: Life Writing, Women and Ageing
Margaret O’Neill researches in twentieth-century and contemporary Irish literature, culture and society. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology and the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, National University of Ireland, Galway. With Michaela Schrage-Früh she is co-founder of the Women and Ageing Research Network.
Michaela Schrage-Früh is a Lecturer in German at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She has published widely on Irish, British and German poetry and fiction, and is the author of two monographs. With Margaret O’Neill she is co-founder of the Women and Ageing Research Network.