Sarah Falcus Seminar | Children’s Literature and Ageing Studies: intergenerationality, time and the life course

This talk brings together ageing studies and children’s literature in order to argue that the relationship between child and older person has ramifications for our understanding of ourselves as temporal and relational beings. Scholars such as Vanessa Joosen have suggested that we revisit the traditionally limiting and even stereotypical alignment between the child and the older person in children’s literature, arguing that this connection may enable new configurations and understandings of old age. Taking on this challenge, I consider the representation of the grandparent and grandchild in picturebooks from the late twentieth to early twenty-first centuries. Engaging with recent critiques of the child in time (Edelman, Sheldon, Gubar, Beauvais), I explore how the convergence of times in the intergenerational relationship may cause us to rethink not only the child’s relationship to time, but also that of the older adult. Ultimately, this examination of the intergenerational relationship in children’s picturebooks reiterates the importance of thinking about ageing from a life course perspective.

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