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Unsettling ageing in three novels by Pat Barker

Falcus, Sarah (2012) Unsettling ageing in three novels by Pat Barker. Ageing and Society, 32 (8). pp. 1382-1398. ISSN 0144-686X

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    Within the growing body of interdisciplinary work on ageing, more attention is now
    paid to literary engagement with and representations of ageing, often in the form of
    literary gerontology. This field locates literature as part of the cultural discourses
    around ageing in our society. Pat Barker’s work, already the subject of some gerontological
    attention, is important here, because her texts offer detailed representations
    of the ageing subject, and engage with the often disturbing challenges that ageing
    presents to self and social identity. This paper considers three of Pat Barker’s novels –
    Another World (), Liza’s England (/), and Union Street () – within
    one of the central debates in ageing studies: how far we are aged by culture and where
    culture might meet the material. In these novels, ageing characters are clearly at the
    mercy of cultural constructions of age; nevertheless, the texts also insist on the
    centrality of the body, forcefully reminding us of the limits of cultural ageing. This
    paper argues that these novels explore the interplay between cultural and corporeal
    ageing, forcing the reader to acknowledge the complexities of, and unsettle any easy
    assumptions about, ageing subjectivity. In the process, this suggests that what fiction
    can offer to gerontology is, at least in part, an exploration of the ineluctability of
    ‘contradictions’ when it comes to ageing.

    Item Type: Article
    Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
    P Language and Literature > PR English literature
    Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
    Related URLs:
    Depositing User: Sara Taylor
    Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2011 11:39
    Last Modified: 06 Feb 2013 13:16


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