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Fiction and the Cultural Mediation of Ageing

"Fiction and the Cultural Mediation of Ageing" was a project run by Professor Philip Tew, Dr Nick Hubble, and Dr Jago Morrison, at the Brunel Centre for Contemporary Writing, between 2009 and 2012. The project involved collaboration between the BCCW, the Third Age Trust, the Mass Observation Archive, and the think-tank Demos.

Data was sought in various ways, and critical and analytical research drew on the qualitative data produced to address issues of ageing and its cultural significance in terms of readership, authorship, and social attitudes. Outputs of the project include the Demos report "Coming of Age" and the 2013 book Ageing, Narrative and Identity.

One research method used was to set up eight reading groups of University of the Third Age members across London in order to read and discuss postwar novels featuring different representations of ageing. The groups met during 2009, 2010, and 2011.

This collection comprises the data generated by the reading groups working for this project, and some related material. There are participants' notes on the novels, their reactions to them and to the issues they raise, and on the group discussions, and life histories written by the participants. Readers were encouraged to write freely on whichever aspects interested them most, and assigned unique identification codes to be used in place of their names and assure anonymity. Topics covered, besides comments on the novels themselves, include participants' views of this project and of the need for research and societal change relating to older people; their reminiscences of caring for family members; the way their own family dynamics have changed with age; and the benefits and drawbacks of ageing as they have experienced it.

Participants were given the option of submitting their work physically or digitally, and so the resulting collection is in a mixture of formats. There are also electronic files to do with the administration of the project, and transcripts of interviews on related topics with four of the authors whose works were studied.

Finding aids

There is a description of the collection and there are finding aids for physical and digital files.

Some of the material is available electronically via the UK Data Service.

Access to collection

Access to physical material is by appointment only. To request an appointment please e-mail Special.Collections@brunel.ac.uk giving at least 2 working days notice. Appointments are subject to staff availability and only available between 9.30am and 5pm Monday – Wednesday. You can check when we are open on the Using our collections page.

For access to digital files, please contact Special Collections. 

Access is only given to documents for which the participants cannot be identified from the documents: others are marked CLOSED in the finding aids and cannot be accessed for research.