Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aging by the Book

Kay Heath, author of Aging by the Book: The Emergence of Midlife in Victorian Britain (now available in paperback), is today's feature interview on ROROTOKO. In the piece, Kay discusses the origins of our often unhealthy obsessions with aging. Here's a snippet describing the personal experiences that sparked Kay's interest in writing the book:

I became interested in writing about age as a “non-traditional” graduate student in my early forties. Not just self-conscious about being older than my classmates, I also couldn’t help but notice that sometimes I was older even than the professor. As we discussed race, class, and gender as key aspects of identity, I began thinking about age. My fellow grad students were finding life partners and wondering whether to have babies, but I was parenting teenagers and dating after the end of a twenty-year marriage. My life stage seemed just as important as my middle-class, white femaleness. I became fascinated with the ways midlife was portrayed—and overlooked—in the texts we were reading. I began researching this topic and found midlife anxiety in a wide variety of nineteenth-century publications: conduct books, medical texts, and advertisements, but especially in novels.