The critical use of narrative and literature in gerontology

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Hannah Zeilig

Abstract

It is now widely accepted that ’’age’’ and ’’ageing’’ are cultural concepts that are open to question. The thinking encouraged by critical gerontology has been crucially important in provoking questions about the complexities of later life, age and ageing. Similarly, the interrogation of stories of age and ageing via narrative approaches and as found in literature are increasingly recognised as an important source of knowledge for mining the intricacies of later life. There are close links between the interests of critical gerontologists and those who engage in narrative and literary gerontology. However, the potential that critical gerontology has for illuminating and probing these stories of age has often been neglected. The central argument of this article is that narrative and literary approaches to age and ageing when allied to perspectives from critical gerontology can furnish scholars with important perspectives for interpreting and re-configuring ’’age’’. The focus is upon how a genuinely dialogic relationship between critical gerontology and narrative and literary gerontology can be forged. In this way, the full potential of these stories of ageing; their epistemological status for enriching theoretical work on ageing, might be better exploited.

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