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Literary Criticism  19th Century

The Aesthetics of Senescence

Aging, Population, and the Nineteenth-Century British Novel

by (author) Andrea Charise

University of Regina Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2020
19th Century
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    Publish Date
    Jan 2020
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    Publish Date
    Jan 2020
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“A brilliant contribution to the medical humanities on aging, exquisitely written and brimming with discovery.” —Stephen Katz, author of Disciplining Old Age
Recent years have seen the rise of alarming headlines warning of an imminent “grey tsunami” of aging retirees. How has old age come to possess such far-reaching ideological and ethical effects? The Aesthetics of Senescence is a field-shifting analysis of aging that begins with and extends beyond nineteenth-century British literature. Charting the traffic between fictional and medical discourses around old age, Andrea Charise shows how authors engaged with an unprecedented—and, as in our present day, hotly politicized—crisis of aging.
“A must-read book for scholars, demographers, historians, health care professionals, and policy makers who get that aging—free of ageism—is our rightful destiny.” —Ashton Applewhite, author of This Chair Rocks
“Breathtaking in scope and in importance, this book showcases Charise’s unmatched eloquence. She shows that what’s new in thinking about twenty-first century population aging is in fact old, but also that what is old is always strangely new.” —Sally Chivers, author of The Silvering Screen
“Absolutely fascinating and illuminating, Charise is masterful in identifying crucial shifts in thought.” —Teresa Mangum, author of Married, Middle-Brow, and Militant
“Charise’s brilliantly argued book is an important intervention in nineteenth-century British literature, age studies, and medical humanities. It brings these areas of inquiry together in what seems a seamless way—as if they have always traveled together or ought to have.” —Devoney Looser, author of The Making of Jane Austen


About the author

Andrea Charise is an assistant professor in the Department of English and the Interdisciplinary Center for Health & Society at the University of Toronto Scarborough. An award-winning educator and researcher of literary studies (and recipient of the John Charles Polanyi Prize for Literature), she has twenty years of work experience as a medical researcher, primarily in geriatrics. This is her first book.

Andrea Charise's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"The brief turn to the contemporary in the conclusion offers a compelling and affective argument for literature’s potential to enable us to think through the paradoxes and contradictions of our individual and collective responses to the aging process. In the context of Covid-19, these questions of aging, population, and demographic thinking have come into yet sharper focus and this book is a brilliant example of what the past might have to tell us about growing older together." —Amy Culley, University of Lincoln, Studies in Romanticism