The emergence of new expressive skills in retirement and later life in contemporary Newfoundland

Doucette, Laurel Catherine (1985) The emergence of new expressive skills in retirement and later life in contemporary Newfoundland. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

While elderly people have long served folklorists as informants, scan attention has been paid to the later years as a life phase, and folklorists have been slow to consider the elderly in any role other than that of tradition bearer. This study attempts to redress this situation by examining an increasingly familiar phenomenon of later life, the adoption of a creative activity. The manifestation of creativity late in life prompts a number of questions concerning patterns of practice, factors of influence, and perceptions of personal and cultural meaning. – Interviews were conducted with a selection of ten retired or elderly Newfoundland men and women, all of whom have adopted or greatly intensified the practice of a creative activity within recent years. Live history materials and details of current practice were assembled with the aim of determining the underlying behavioural patterns of these creative seniors, and the relationships between these patterns, the aging process, and local traditional culture. – The data collected suggests that the creative senior is an emerging rather than an existing model. Choice of activity, here ranging from visual arts and crafts to performance and written composition, was dictated by personal preference rather than by local or family precedent. For these individuals there was a strong indication that the adoption of creative work was a constructive reaction to change of stress. Such adoption may in fact indicate an existing pattern, developed over a lifetime, for coping with difficulty. – Within the lives and present activities of these individuals there are recurrent themes which indicate areas of special concern and interest. These are autobiography; integration; the preparation of a cultural legacy; status maintenance and enhancement; play; compensation; social and cultural involvement; and the creation of a personal domain. The strong presence of themes which provide benefits directed towards the personal and social development of the individual rather than towards the well-being of society suggests that folklorists, in restricting their attention to the elderly in their role as tradition bearers, have neglected important aspects of the articulation of individual late life and traditional culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/10423
Item ID: 10423
Additional Information: Bibliography : leaves 322-339.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Folklore
Date: 1985
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Arts and older people--Newfoundland and Labrador; Creative ability--Social aspects; Older artists--Newfoundland and Labrador; Older authors--Newfoundland and Labrador; Older people--Newfoundland and Labrador--Recreation.

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