Creative ageing? Selfhood, temporality and the older adult learner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper is based on a long-term ethnography of an adult creative writing class situated in a major urban art gallery in the United Kingdom. It takes the claims of one group of older adults – that creative writing made them ‘feel younger’ – as the starting point for exploring this connection further. It places these claims broadly within theories of learning in later life that advocate creative expression and reminiscence as important practices for educators of older adults. However, the main analysis employs anthropological theories of creativity and ageing in order to question the cultural assumptions about creativity and the period of older age informing theory and practice. The paper argues that the value of creative writing for the individuals studied lies both in the fact that it is a relational (rather than individual) process and a means of being in the present. These findings contradict traditional conceptions about creativity as future-oriented and older people as retrospective; they also raise questions about narratives of empowerment, individual agency and the importance of ‘reminiscence’ in some of the literature on older adult learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-229
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Lifelong Education
Issue number2
Early online date18 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2015

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • creativity
  • ageing
  • wellbeing
  • selfhood
  • temporality


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