‘Late style’ and late-life creativity

Authored by: David Amigoni , Gordon McMullan

Routledge Handbook of Cultural Gerontology

Print publication date:  June  2015
Online publication date:  June  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415631143
eBook ISBN: 9780203097090
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221033


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From the early formation of the discipline of gerontology, scholars and practitioners in the field have expressed interest in, and curiosity about, the distinctive qualities of creative art—writing, painting, sculpture, photography, music—completed in later life. The psychologist G. Stanley Hall, in his Senescence: The Last Half of Life (1922) provides an early example of gerontological research into the status of late-life creativity. Hall described ‘senescence’ as a life stage that ‘has its own feelings, thoughts, and wills, as well as its own physiology’ (Hall 1922: 100). His work is instructive because it was an early foundational handbook of gerontological science: while the central chapter focuses, unsurprisingly, on ‘Biology and Physiology’ (VI), the book also includes a lengthy section on ‘Literature by and on the Aged’ (III), which provides a selective but valuable survey of the burgeoning transatlantic demand for writings on later life between the 1870s and the 1920s as older people became culturally and politically more visible than they had been in earlier centuries (Thane 2000).

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