MASCAGE Research Project

No Country for Old Men? Representations of Masculinity and Aging in Contemporary U.S. Fiction

The primary objective of this research is to analyze representations of aging men in contemporary U.S. fiction. The study specifically seeks to (a) carry out an in-depth analysis of the interrelationship of masculinities with a variety of social issues closely related to ageing⎯namely, health, social inclusion and exclusion, sexuality and affective relationships, and cultural stereotypes associated with ageing; (b) gain a deeper understanding of contemporary social constructions of ageing masculinities through their cultural representations, especially contemporary U.S. fiction; (c) reconsider the assumption that the experiences of aging by men and women may be simply defined as radically opposed (Waxman 1990), analyzing their plurality and irreducible complexity through U.S. fictional representations, male- and female-authored; and (d) redefine aging as the result of varied and often even contradictory experiences, influenced not just by gender but also ethnicity, sexual orientation, and/or religious affiliation. If age studies have traditionally focused on youth (Kimmel 2008) and gerontology studies either on older women or “ungendered” portraits of aging (Saxton and Cole 2012), the innovative potential of this project thus lies in “gendering” age from the perspective of masculinity, especially in the Humanities, as this research has seldom reached the literary and cultural arena.