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Age, Gender and Existentialism in the Late-Life Bildungsroman

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posted on 23.05.2021, 16:45 by Laurie Petrou
This dissertation aims to reveal the echo of modernist existentialism in postmodern late-life fiction. In a close reading of works by Alistair MacLeod, Nick Hornby and Michael Chabon, as well as my own creative work, I have explored the continually shifting models of gender and age, as characters progress towards development and navigate questions of the self. Issues of modes of masculinity from the rural to the urban, as well as female masculinity are investigated in this sample of varying works of fiction. Grounded in an analysis of the philosophy and fiction of Soren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir, with reference to traditional Bildungsroman (coming-of age, or education novel), I hope to have demonstrated the similar, but newly interpreted existential trajectory of self-development in contemporary narrative. This is reflected in postmodern and contemporary narratives that challenge existing conventions while prizing modernist philosophical tenets. Combining theoretical and creative acumen, this work aims to contribute to age and gender studies, while offering a fresh approach to scholarly work.





Doctor of Philosophy


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type