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Adulthood and Other FictionsAmerican Literature and the Unmaking of Age$
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Sari Edelstein

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198831884

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198831884.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 05 March 2021

Over the Hill and Out of Sight

Over the Hill and Out of Sight

Locating Old Age in Regionalism

Chapter:
(p.93) 4 Over the Hill and Out of Sight
Source:
Adulthood and Other Fictions
Author(s):

Sari Edelstein

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198831884.003.0005

The fourth chapter reads New England regionalism as a response to this pathologization of old age. The old maids, spinsters, and widowers that populate the short fiction of Mary Wilkins Freeman and Sarah Orne Jewett stage a subversive dialogue with the scientific and cultural denigration of the elderly, particularly elderly women, and resist the homogenizing effects of this discourse. While much scholarship acknowledges the prevalence of elderly people in regionalism, linking old age to the passing of old modes of living, this chapter urges us to see the elderly characters in this genre not as metaphors for dying ways of life but as representations of elderly bodies and subjectivities in their own right. These authors force us to question the celebration of independence and autonomy imbricated in fantasies of adulthood and in American identity itself.

Keywords:   elderly, dependence, regionalism, women, old age, autonomy, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Sarah Orne Jewett

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