• Shuffling Softly, Sighing Deeply: A Digital Inquiry into Representations of Older Men and Women in Literature for Different Ages

    Author(s):
    Lindsey Geybels (see profile)
    Date:
    2023
    Group(s):
    Children's literature and digital humanities
    Subject(s):
    Digital humanities, Ageism, Older people, Gender identity in literature
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/0ycy-8883
    Abstract:
    When gender is brought into concerns about older people, the emphasis often lies on stereotypes connected to older women, and few comparative studies have been conducted pertaining to the representation of the intersection between older age and gender in fiction. This article argues that not only children’s literature, traditionally considered to be a carrier of ideology, plays a large part in the target readership’s age socialization, but so do young adult and adult fiction. In a large corpus of 41 Dutch books written for different ages, the representation of older men and women is studied through the verbs, grammatical possessions and adjectives associated with the relevant fictional characters, which were extracted from the texts through the computational method of dependency parsing. Older adult characters featured most frequently in fiction for adults, where, more so than in the books for younger readers, they are depicted as being prone to illness, experiencing the effects of a deteriorating body and having a limited social network. In the books for children, little to no association between older adulthood and mortality was found in the data. Ageist stereotypes pertaining to both genders were found throughout the corpus. In terms of characterization, male older adults are associated more with physicality, including matters of illness and mobility, while character traits and emotions show up in a more varied manner in connection to female older characters.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    12 months ago
    License:
    Attribution

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