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'The great dread of our age' ; Reading Alzheimer's and the Gothic.

Austin, Anthony George 2011. 'The great dread of our age' ; Reading Alzheimer's and the Gothic. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Dementia, particularly Alzheimer's disease, is a defining characteristic of ageing today. Its confusion, disorientation and loss of memory provoke anxiety, dread and fear and its increasing incidence has led, in turn, to a growth in its representation across a variety of literary, cultural and other forms. This thesis examines Alzheimer's in contemporary cultural and theoretical terms through a reading of a diverse range of texts, arguing that such material can be best viewed through the prism of the Gothic, and that Alzheimer's is informed by Gothicity, rendering Alzheimer subjects and their social world in a posthuman space. Several interrelated themes run throughout - body and mind psychological and social loss notions of fear, terror and horror - all addressed by means of theoretical paradigms drawn from psychoanalytic, postmodernist and poststructuralist thought. Chapter 1 considers the contemporary cultural impact of Alzheimer's disease and, adopting an historical perspective, locates present-day anxieties in nineteenth- and twentieth- century cultural practice. Chapter 2 posits Alzheimer's as a Gothic pathology, profiling Gothic fiction and its contemporary criticism. Chapter 3 contextualises Alzheimer's in private and public spaces. Chapter 4 sets out the use of metaphor in cultural representations of disease and illness and is followed, in Chapter 5, by an exposition of Gothic imagery and the language of Gothicity in Alzheimer's. The thesis closes, in Chapter 6, with an analysis of imaginative writings about Alzheimer's in contemporary fiction. Extensive reference is made throughout to biography, memoir, poetry, public papers and official reports. The disintegrating personal and social realms of Alzheimer subjects scarcely feature in representations of dementia in the disciplines of medicine and science. This thesis is the first full-length attempt to fill such a gap and to demonstrate how the Gothic can advance and enrich the understanding Alzheimer's in the contemporary world.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
ISBN: 9781303196256
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2021 11:26

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