© 2019

Queer Aging in North American Fiction


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. The Confines of Straight Time

  3. In an Era of Liberations

  4. Transitions of the 1990s

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 121-121
  5. Queer Aging in the Young Twenty-First Century

  6. Queer Aging Now

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 223-223
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 233-240

About this book


Exploring representations of queer aging in North American fiction, this book illuminates a rich yet previously unheeded intersection within American culture. At a time when older LGBTQ persons gradually gain visibility in gerontological studies and in the media, this work provides a critical perspective concerned with the ways in which the narratives and images we have at our disposal shape our realities. Each chapter shines a spotlight on a significant work of queer fiction, beginning with post-WWII novels and ending with filmic representations of the 2010s, exploring narratives as both reflections and agents of broader cultural negotiations concerning queer sexuality and aging. As a result, the book not only redresses queer aging’s history of invisibility, but also reveals narratives of queer aging to be particularly apt in casting new light on the ways in which growing older is perceived and conceptualized in North American culture. 


non-heteronormative aging queer aging sexuality LGBTQ gay and lesbian literature gay and lesbian films aging studies disability studies

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Goethe University FrankfurtFrankfurt am MainGermany

About the authors

Linda M. Hess is Assistant Professor of American Studies (wissenschaftl. Mitarbeiterin) at the Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. She has published articles on the intersection of aging studies and queer studies, and she is co-editor of Exploring the Fantastic: Genre, Ideology, and Popular Culture (2018).

Bibliographic information


“Linda Hess’s Queer Aging in North American Fiction breaks new ground in queer literary studies by arguing not only for the queerness of aging in a culture obsessed with youth but also for the unique experiences of queer-identified people undergoing the aging process. Bringing together work by Dorothy Baker, James Baldwin, Andrew Holleran, and Suzette Mayr—as well as several examples from popular culture—Hess offers an intersectional account of aging that treats senescence as both struggle and opportunity.” (Benjamin Bateman, Lecturer in Post-1900 British Literature, The University of Edinburgh and author of The Modernist Art of Queer Survival (2017))

“Despite its otherwise widespread embrace of diverse marginal peoples, queer studies has shown a shocking lack of interest in older adults.  Linda Hess's important new book begins to remedy this lack.  Not only does Hess attend to and appreciate many older queer characters in fiction, but she helps us think our way not only to including old people in our queer visions but to queering the normative constructions of aging.” (Jane Gallop, author of Sexuality, Disability, and Aging: Queer Temporalities of the Phallus (2019), Distinguished Professor of English, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UK)

“This work makes a timely intervention in understandings of queer aging in North American culture as it has been conceptualised from World War II to the present.  Focussing on literature and film, it provides a compelling critical study of the intersections of aging and queer identities. Moreover, it shows that narratives of queer aging provide a meaningful lens to examine how growing old is viewed and understood in North America.” (Ros Jennings, Professor in Aging, Culture and Media, University of Gloucestershire, UK)