Despite calls since the 1970s for more research into the history of old age, there is still a relative dearth of historical studies on the elderly, especially in the pre-industrial past. This volume remedies much of that deficiency with essays exploring the lives of old men and old women, and the images of old age and aging, in early modern Europe and America. Collectively, the chapters demonstrate there was a strong association of advanced age with authority in the lived experience of older men and women. This book recognizes poverty and physical limitations were a very real threat, but challenges the tendency of existing literature on historical gerontology to associate old age with dependence and disability. Instead, what emerges from this volume is the success of older people in the past in imbuing their old age with dignity, despite the often vicious nature of old age in both popular and elite literature.
Essays are brought together on old age in early modern England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and America, enabling comparisons that cross geographical boundaries. Historians of old age, the family, demography, social history and cultural history will value this volume, as will sociologists and anthropologists interested in gerontology.
About the Author
SUSANNAH R. OTTAWAY is Assistant Professor in the History Department at Carleton College.
L. A. BOTELHO is Associate Professor in the History Department at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
KATHARINE KITTREDGE is Associate Professor in the English Department at Ithaca College.
Table of Contents
Foreword by W. A. Achenbaum
Introduction: Authority, Autonomy, and Responsibility among the Aged in the Pre-Industrial Past by Susannah R. Ottaway
Crafting a Good Old Age
Aging and Memory in a Bureaucratizing World: A French Historical Experience by David G. Troyansky
Poverty, Patriarchy, and Old Age: The Households of Revolutionary War Veterans, 1820-1830 by Jack Resch
Social Lives of Elderly Women in Eighteenth-Century Toulouse by Sherri Klassen
Women and Aging in Transatlantic Perspective by Anne Kugler
Interacting with Institutions to Thrive or Survive in Old Age
Old People and the Flow of Resources between Generations in Papal Rome, 16th to 19th Centuries by Angela Groppi
Experience of Old Age in the Narratives of the Rural Poor in Early Modern Germany by Louise Gray
"Labor and Sorrow": The Living Conditions of the Elderly Residents of Bocking, Essex, 1793-1807 by Jane Pearson
Image and Reality: Social Experience Versus Cultural Representations of Old Age
Old Age in Early Modern Castilian Villages by David Vassberg
Stereotypes and Statistics: Old Women and Accusations of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe by Alison Rowlands
Naturalizing Myths of Aging: A Cautionary Tale by Kirk Combe and Kenneth Schmader
Representations of Old Age and Aging
Aging Heroes, Buffoons, and Statesmen in Shakespeare's Plays by Janice Rossen
Images of Old Age in Early Modern Cheap Print: Women, Witches, and the Poisonous Female Body by L. A. Botelho
"The Ag'd Dame to Venery Inclin'd": Images of Sexual Older Women in 18th-Century Britain by Katharine Kittredge