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Aging and Identity: A Humanities Perspective by Sara M. Deats, Lagretta Lenker

By Sara M. Deats, Lagretta Lenker

Viewing creative works in the course of the lens of either modern gerontological conception and postmodernist thoughts, the contributing students study literary remedies, cinematic depictions, and inventive photographs of getting older from Shakespeare to Hemingway, from Horton Foote to Disney, from Rembrandt to Alice Neale, whereas additionally evaluating the attitudes towards getting older in local American, African American, and Anglo American literature. The examples exhibit that lengthy ahead of gerontologists recommended a Janus-faced version of getting older, artists have been celebrating the variety of the aged, hard the bio-medical equation of senescence with inevitable senility. Underlying all of this dialogue is the enterprise conviction that cultural texts build in addition to encode the normal perceptions in their society; that literature, the humanities, and the media not just replicate society's mores yet may also support to create and implement them.

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Cold and shivering amid the towering tempest, the 28 T H E AGING MALE IN LITERATURE King forgets himself and succors his faithful Fool; transcending his own misery, he empathizes with all the cold, hungry, homeless outcasts of society, realizing that when he had reigned in glory and power, he had been callously indifferent to the suffering of his subjects: Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are, That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm, How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides, Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you From seasons such as these?

Prospero thus provides one 3* THE AGING MALE IN LITERATURE of the most positive images of seniority in all of literature, epitomizing the vital, creative aging documented by contemporary gerontologists. By demonstrating two such different concepts of aging—vulnerability versus power, incapacity versus empowerment—Shakespeare anticipates the discoveries of contemporary gerontologists by stressing the heterogeneity of aging, suggesting that society's association of senescence with ineluctable impairment is a social construct, not a biological inevitability.

All of these actions, as we shall see, place him in marked contrast with Lear. Prospero owes his excellent social s^'iation to his equally impressive level of psychological health. Also, as in the case of the well elder at the GET SHAKESPEARE TEACHING GERIATRICS 37 Clinic, he is active mentally, with his reasoning, language skills, and judgment all preserved. His mastery of white magic has come about as a consequence of intense, lifelong study, and his current ability to manipulate his knowledge is no fluke or series of cheap tricks.

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