Purdue University Graduate School

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Modernists and Middle Age: How Age Anxiety Shaped the Works of Joyce, Rhys and Orwell

journal contribution
posted on 2021-01-14, 18:20 authored by Carrie A. KanciliaCarrie A. Kancilia
This project is a literature-focused investigation of age-related discourse in the Modernist texts of James Joyce, Jean Rhys, and George Orwell. This study locates anxiety about ageing as a consistent trope of Modernist literature in reaction to the shifting and uncertain landscape of the period. Despite the meaningful differences in perspective, gender, nationality, and chronological placement of these authors within the spectrum of the Modernist period, each foregrounds age anxiety as a central theme and tension in their works. Incorporating dread around ageing in distinct manners, these authors expose the irreconcilable disconnect between a cultural call for newness and the inevitable ageing of the authors themselves. This study highlights the largely unexamined motif of age anxiety in the work of Modernism’s most esteemed and compelling authors.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • English

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Maren Linett

Additional Committee Member 2

Arkady Plotnitsky

Additional Committee Member 3

Aparagita Sagar

Additional Committee Member 4

Elena Coda