Academic journal article Generations

Our Guest Editor

Academic journal article Generations

Our Guest Editor

Article excerpt

Stories to connect, stories for life review, stories to heal, stories to provide or elicit information, stories to live by. In this issue of Generations, we listen to older people's stories and examine their power in personal and professional life. "These stories can change the way we think about aging-our own and that of others-and can change the way we work with older people," says Anne Wyatt-Brown, the issue's guest editor. She has been a pioneer in bringing the tools of literature and the humanities to enhance understanding, communication, and practice in the field of aging.

Anne Wyatt-Brown did not plan to become a gerontologist. Currently associate professor in the Program in Linguistics and undergraduate director of Linguistics at the University of Florida in Gainesville, she graduated with a B.A. in English from Radclifte College and holds a master of arts in teaching from Johns Hopkins and a Ph.D. in English from Case-Western Reserve. But most of her work has come to focus on the lives of older people.

"I have always been drawn to aging," she says. "I think it's because I grew up in an extended family with a lot of elderly relatives. After church every Sunday, we'd go to see Granny and the great-aunts. I remember being afraid of them when I was very young, but I came to know them better and be glad for their stories. Years later, we did a family history; we didn't want those stories to die." Wyatt-Brown homed in on the importance of aging practice during the course of her mother-in-law's experience in a nursing home. "It was so horrible; I realized I had to do something so that this wouldn't happen to others, and I began to connect with social workers and others in the field."

In the vanguard of a growing group interested in literary work related to aging, early in her career Wyatt-Brown applied theories of aging to studies of the novelists Barbara Pym and Elizabeth Bowen. As Andrew Achenbaum has written, she coined the term literary gerontology as part of a movement to show aging from the perceptions and emotions of people's inner lives. …

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