Aged Young Adults

Age Readings of Contemporary American Novels and Films

When Toula's father in »My Big Fat Greek Wedding« says to his daughter (age 30) »you look so old« or when Don DeLillo's protagonist (age 28) »feels old« in »Cosmopolis«, these young characters are attributed an age awareness that has received little attention in age studies so far. Leaving aside chronological or biological dimensions of age, this study approaches age as a metaphoric practice, suggesting that »feeling old« is not to be taken literally but metaphorically. The book examines the cultural meanings of age and aging for characters who are in their twenties and thirties and challenges often-quoted labels such as late-coming-of-age story or perpetual adolescence.

€33.99 * $45.00 *

13 January 2014, 280 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-2483-0

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Anita Wohlmann

Anita Wohlmann, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Deutschland

... with Anita Wohlmann

1. »Books that the world does not need to read.« Why is your book different?

Age is a topic that is relevant for everybody: Old people, adults and teenagers. Even children learn what it means to be four, five or six years old and what kinds of rights, responsibilities and opportunities are linked with a particular age.

A curious thing happens as we age: The relation between our chronological age and how old we feel does not develop in a linear (or logical) way. In my book, I examine the paradoxical references to old age made by young characters.

2. What new perspective does your book provide?

The book tries to expand the scope of age studies by applying central concepts of age and aging to a younger age group. The central claim is that age experiences do not belong to the elderly but are general human experiences. At the same time, the meanings associated with ›feeling old‹ or ›being old‹ are situational and culturally contingent.

3. What significance is attributed to the topic in contemporary research?

This study taps into two contemporary concepts: On the one hand, the notion of being ›aged by culture‹ (Gullette), and on the other hand, the notion of ›perpetual adolescence‹, which is a concept used in sociology and developmental psychology. Based on these concepts, I examine how characters in their twenties and thirties express their sense of being different by creatively using implicit assumptions about age and aging in a playful and sometimes exaggerated or ironic way.

4. Who would you want to discuss your book with?

I would like to discuss this book with scholars from age studies, of course, but also with researchers of the life course or life span, with scholars from literature and film studies and with a general audience interested in a different approach to contemporary American novels and films.

5. Describe your book in one sentence:

This study analyzes references to age made by young characters to negotiate their experiences and feelings in a particular stage of their lives.

Anita Wohlmann
Book title
Aged Young Adults Age Readings of Contemporary American Novels and Films
transcript Verlag
kart., Klebebindung, 14 SW-Abbildungen
Commodity Group
SOC013000 LIT004020 PER004030
Release date
13 January 2014
Film, Literatur, Alter
Age Studies, American Literature and Film Studies, American Cultural Studies, Sociology, Developmental Psychology
Age and Aging, Coming-of-Age, Life Stages, United States, Novels, Films, Aging Studies, Literature, Film, American Studies, Cultural Studies

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