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Ageing in Welsh fiction in English, 1906-2012: Bodies, culture, time, and memory

Shepley, Elinor 2018. Ageing in Welsh fiction in English, 1906-2012: Bodies, culture, time, and memory. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines the proliferation of ageing characters to be found in twentieth and twenty-first-century Welsh fiction in English and argues that older people have a special significance in this body of literature. The study employs a mixed methodology, combining close comparative analysis of fictional texts with theoretical perspectives taken from cultural and literary theory, philosophy, sociology, psychoanalysis, and postcolonial studies. The introduction situates my work alongside the fields of literary gerontology and Welsh writing in English, giving focus to strands of research which have synergies with this thesis. Chapter 2 examines the influence of stereotypes of ageing on older characterisations in Anglophone Welsh fiction and argues that writers undermine and complicate these stereotypes. Representations of gossips, burdens, those with dementia, wise older people, inspirational grandmothers, older men and grandfathers, and unmarried women are analysed. Chapter 3 focuses on renderings of older subjectivity, considering protagonists’ experiences of physical ageing, alongside tensions between the changing older body and a more constant self within, and texts which represent changes in experiences of time and memory. Writers are argued to give voice to the frail and the marginalised and to reveal the influence of socioeconomic and cultural factors on experiences of ageing. Chapter 4 asserts that intergenerational relationships involving older characters tend to symbolise societal change and to reflect class and linguistic divisions between generations. Ageing characters, particularly older women, are shown to become links to the past and to act as remembrancers of local and national histories. They also signify a conception of Welsh identity grounded in speaking Welsh, devotion to Nonconformist worship, and a stoic determination to survive. These characters often perform the role of storyteller, passing on suppressed knowledge and traditional values. It is argued that, despite their regard for the past, the novels and short stories discussed avoid the dangers of nostalgia through the ambivalence of younger characters to the identities they are bequeathed, the self-reflexivity of several texts, and older characters who are grounded in the present and concerned about the future.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 September 2018
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2019 02:45

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