By adding consideration of age to that of race, gender, and class, this volume seeks to show how growing older affects literary creativity and psychological development and to examine how individual writing careers begin to change in middle age. The editors have brought together original work by a range of scholars, including Kathleen Woodward and Margaret Morganroth Gullette, the two most influential theorists of ageing; Bertram Wyatt-Brown, the historian at work on a major life-span study of the Percys of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana; and a number of literary scholars from classics, English and modern languages. The contributors note that a culturally constructed "decline narrative" has dominated literary theory for some time. Yet their research indicates several different patterns of late-life writing, most of which challenge these negative assumptions. Utilising the insights of social psychologists, who have demonstrated that creativity depends upon a fruitful interaction between individual talent and the larger literary world, the contributors show that writers' reactions to ageing are determined partly by cultural attitudes toward gender.
This book combines ageing theory with literary analysis. It demonstrates that literature plays an important role in the construction of gerontological theory and that ageing is as important a category in literary analysis as gender, race, class and sexual orientation. "Ageing and Gender in Literature" bridges the long-standing gap between literature and social science and demonstrates how enriching such an integration can be. Scholars of literature, feminism, gerontology and anyone curious about the development of creativity over the life course, should find this book of interest.