The Seventh Age of Man: Issues, Challenges, and Paradoxes is a collection of academic essays on Old Age. The contributors come from a wide range of fields of expertise, which accounts for the originality of the book. Depending on their respective disciplines, the authors resort to various methodological approaches, from sociological case studies to discourse analysis, and from historical and political theories to media criticism, but they often address similar questions-when are people to be considered as old, what does it mean to be old, how do we deal with ageing-and reach similar conclusions about the paradoxical representations of the elderly, whether in Renaissance Europe or in contemporary China. Although men and women are sometimes treated differently, in most societies, the older generation is alternately perceived as a threat and a burden, or as financial and moral support. If they are often criticized or ridiculed, especially when they try to retain their youthful looks long after their prime, the elderly also trigger a feeling of nostalgia as representatives of a past usually seen as more desirable than the present. Their resilience and independence are regularly emphasized, as well as their wisdom, as a result of their long experience, which helps them to contemplate their ends more serenely and which might turn them into models for their contemporaries.
Muriel Cassel-Piccot is Senior Lecturer in British Studies at Universite Lyon III-Jean Moulin, France. She first started her career as a researcher in mass communication, British media, and advertising. Since then, she has expanded her field of research to British politics (especially the Liberal Democrats), paying particular attention to parties' communication strategies. She has recently focused on communication relating to key social issues such as the protection of the environment and the management of an ageing population.Genevieve Lheureux is Senior Lecturer in British literature at Universite Lyon III-Jean Moulin, France. Her research first concentrated on verbal and gestural strategies in history plays, but more recently she has also worked on tragedies, in particular the stylistic features of the language of madness, and comedies from the perspective of New Historicism. She is the author of three articles on King Lear, in which she discusses various aspects of old age: the question of inheritance, the representation of senility, and the consequences of self-imposed dependence.