Old Men's Tales :an Exploration of Masculinity and Ageing Through Narrative and Story Telling

Stevenson, Roberta (2006) Old Men's Tales :an Exploration of Masculinity and Ageing Through Narrative and Story Telling. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Although there has been a significant growth in research into men and masculinities in recent years, the focus has been on young and middle-aged men concentrating on issues such as sexuality, violence, sport, the body and employment. There has also been a marked expansion in the literature on ageing as western societies adjust to the rising age of their populations. As yet, however, masculinity as it is experienced in old age has been largely ignored in the academic literature. It is therefore timely to investigate older men's position in a culture which depicts old age as dependent, weak and impotent while, at the same time, privileging hegemonic masculinity which constructs men as dominant, powerful, sexually potent and physically strong. It is also important that old men enter the debate by providing their own testimony. The methodological foundation for this thesis is the concept that the stories circulating within our culture create, rather than reflect, social life and that our assumptions about masculinity and old age are created in dialogue with others. My research has therefore drawn on Bakhtinian dialogism and Michel de Certeau's concept of the 'recited society'. The thesis comprises a collection of tales gathered from five men (one of whom was my father) and from three published male writers. The 'old men's tales', the stories which were told about their long lives, are the products of recorded and transcribed narratives into which I weave my own commentary and interpretation. This commentary serves to add a woman's voice, as a counterpoint to the men's words, but it also discloses my own gendered position within the text. The exploration of stories is pursued further through critical analysis of the writing of three men (And When Did You Last See Your Father, Blake Morrison (1993), Man and Boy, Tony Parsons (2000), and The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2002)) who have not yet reached old age, but who have used the characters of old men to problematize ageing masculinity. This complex web of stories casts light on how old men are mostly silent on the subject of old age, how they continue to construct their identities on youthful masculinity, especially using 'heroic' role models from their pasts, and identifies how they no longer look for such role models among their contemporaries. The research , therefore, makes an important contribution to the areas of masculinity studies, critical and feminist gerontology and, with its engagement with the novel, extends into the field of medical humanities, at a time when the humanity of an ageing population is a critical perspective for the medical profession.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Saguaro, Shelleyssaguaro@glos.ac.ukUNSPECIFIED
Uncontrolled Keywords: Story telling; old age and academic literature; masculinity; gendered position within a text
Related URLs:
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creatives
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2022 12:19
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:57
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/11169

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