Loughborough University
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British contemporary fiction and the new dynamics of ageing

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posted on 2013-06-19, 11:46 authored by Joan Walker
This Ph.D. thesis consists of a novel, EXEUNT, and research associated with it, both being specifically concerned with literary/cultural representations of love and relationships over the age of sixty-five. In consideration of the changing dynamics of ageing, declared internationally by gerontologists during the 1990s, the research investigates the perceptions of British writers, publishers and readers regarding their acceptance of late-life sexuality in British contemporary novels. It identifies key stakeholders in specific interest groups, and operates within an interpretive perspective as a suitable analytical framework for a pragmatic mixed methods investigation. Although the initial focus of the research was on publishers and writers, the inclusion of readers resulted in wider consequences that call for more transparency and a fuller understanding of concepts linked to ageism. Having explored the dynamic between author, publisher and reader, the study concludes there is a superficial disharmony between them, whereas in fact they are mutually complementary. This dichotomy appears to be due to misunderstanding, and lack of trust. In reality, a large percentage of readers, in line with recent research on film audiences, feel it acceptable for people over the age of sixty to have such sexual needs and desires. This acceptability and the new dynamics of ageing inform the novel which places the research in a wider context and constitutes the second part of the Ph.D. The multi-layered novel EXEUNT, in part ontogenetic, works against ageism within current prejudice by depicting the lovers in their fifties, sixties and seventies, and by doing so reveals the wide gap between subjective reality and the perceived public image. Their relationship is accepted by the British woman s friends, family and contemporaries, so that the epistemology of age is acquired only through negative opinions or actions, with the narrative embodying much of current research on the subject. Contrasting attitudes to ageing are found within the ethnographic detail of Romania during the period of communism, revolution and consequential freedom: 1982-2005. The frameworks of the fiction are encapsulated in the concept of Theatre as an analogy for life and death with a unique structure that portrays an ontological viewpoint. This underpins a reality where the attention of the reader/audience is disrupted by an intermittent reminder of the analogy. The term fictodrama has been used to describe this combination of fiction and theatrical effects.



  • The Arts, English and Drama


  • English and Drama


© Joan Walker

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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  • en

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