Discourse of aging in the US drama: problem field, semantics, poetics

Гайдаш, Анна Владиславівна (2020) Discourse of aging in the US drama: problem field, semantics, poetics Post-Doctoral thesis, Київський національний університет імені Тараса Шевченка.

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Abstract

Thesis for a Doctoral Degree in Philology. Specialty: 10.01.04 – Literature of Foreign Countries. – Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, 2020. The dissertation addresses the construction of the discourse of aging in the American drama in the framework of literary gerontology. The academic novelty of the research is corroborated by its being the first endeavor in the Ukrainian humanitarian studies to study semantic and poetical dimensions of late adulthood representations in US drama. The thesis argues that the frequency of the representations of the “third age” in fiction and onstage is generated by the challenges of our times, in particular, by the increased average life expectancy, the awareness of loneliness and worthlessness by the elderly. The relevance of the aging discourse is driven by the need to raise our awareness concerning the increase in life expectancy that is reflected in recent fiction. Age studies and gerontological studies of the 20th century recommend socio-psychological and historical-cultural analyses to comprehensively cover the phenomenon of aging. The outline of the main milestones in social and artistic representations of aging in Western civilization in a diachronic perspective, based on the philosophical, anthropological and historical works of S. de Beauvoir, D.H. Fischer, and T.R. Cole discerns opposing attitudes towards the elderly in the history of Western civilization: reverence as much as neglect. The author traces the representations of old age in the landmark works and texts (including drama) of antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, 17th-20th centuries in junction with anthropological observations of a particular period. The religious and communal perception of late adulthood can be traced in Western civilization from the time of antiquity to the end of the 16th century. Then there transpired a sharp transition to scientific and individualistic perception of old age in Europe and the USA in the period from the 18th to the 20th centuries. The thesis claims that the dominant aspect of the aging discourse in literature for a long time has been and remains the motive complex of intergenerational conflicts. Apart from that, contemporary fictional discourse of the dynamics of aging also focuses on the representations of elderly characters’ everyday life, their social statuses, the relations within their families, and issues of transcendence. The findings of the research show that societal attitudes toward old age and aging and their literary manifestations have undergone dramatic, sometimes polar, transformations over more than two millennia. The focus of the work is the consideration of literary gerontology as a modern interdisciplinary field and the implementation of its approaches in the field of Ukrainian literary studies. Literary gerontology emerges in the mid-1970ies in the framework of age studies. Scholars of literary gerontology examine the gerontological markers in fictional texts. Unlike sociologists or medical gerontologists who regard biological aging as involution of the body/brain and degradation of the individual, the literary scholars consider fictional representations of late adulthood in a much more contrastive and tragic focus: elderly people are forced to deal with numerous negative stereotypes of old age in a youth-oriented culture. Therefore the key concept of literary gerontology studies is ageism, with its etymology traced in the lexical unit of “age”. Its initial meaning “lifetime; maturity; vital force” was lost over time, acquiring the connotation of “decline” (feebleness; senility). One of the problems of literary gerontology studies is the widespread use of ageist euphemisms in fiction. The thesis tackles semantic and poetic aspects of the dynamics of aging in the texts of American playwrights drawing typological parallels with the dramatic works of other national literatures. In particular, models of intergenerational conflicts, heterotopia of geriatric institutions, the functioning of the “life review” techniques and reminiscences, genre versions of a memory-play and “pathography”, the interweaving of erotic and thanatic motifs, as well as images of creative impulses in late adulthood are highlighted. The representations of ageism and artistic options for minimizing age stereotypes in dramatic texts are analyzed. The dissertation also studies the notions of norm and ableism in late adulthood allowing to apply to dramatic text analysis a new genre of pathography, indicative of the gerontological portrayals of a number of the elderly protagonists. Also, the poetics of old age is considered via artistic representations of the elderly and their strategies of aging (active and passive) in some current performances.

Item Type: Thesis (Post-Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: aging; literary gerontology; ageism; “successful aging”; strategies of aging; self-stereotyping; gerontological marker; dynamics of aging; intergenerational conflict; “life review”; reminiscence; memory play; “pathography”; heterotopias of nursing homes; late style
Subjects: Автореферати > Спецради у інших ВНЗ
Divisions: Інститути > Інститут філології > Кафедра германської філології
Depositing User: зав.каф. Анна Владиславівна Гайдаш
Date Deposited: 29 Dec 2020 13:23
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2021 08:24
URI: https://elibrary.kubg.edu.ua/id/eprint/33975

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