Doctoral Student Publishes Book With Help from Kent State Faculty and Staff

In May, CCI Doctoral student Norma Jones released her co-edited book, entitled Aging Heroes: Growing Old in Popular Culture. The book featured chapter contributions from CCI faculty members Suzy D’Enbeau, Ph.D., Mei-Chen Lin, Ph.D., and Paul Haridakis, Ph.D.

Aging Heroes is not the first book Jones co-edited. In 2014, she released two co-edited companion books, Heroines of Film and Television: Portrayals in Popular Culture and Heroines of Comic Books and Literature: Portrayals in Popular Culture, with fellow CCI doctoral student Maja Bajac-Carter.

Lin and Haridakis said, “The media can present stereotypical portrayals that support, refute and/or contribute to audience members’ perceptions. Much research in our field has focused on the negative effects (e.g., under-representation in the media, peripheral and negative depictions of the older characters) of stereotypical portrayals of the elderly in the media.”

“Such negative stereotypical portrayals are of concern, because age stereotypes are part of our social knowledge loosely grouped together in clusters of attributes that we draw on in a given context when forming perceptions about older adults,” they said. “If our stereotypical view of the elderly from the media is a negative one, our perceptions of the elderly in general, and the outlook of our own aging process may also be negative.”

Jones credited the CCI program for making the Aging Heroes book a reality.

“For me, I feel that the collaborative philosophy behind the CCI Ph.D. is particularly influential in my book publications,” Jones said. “Instead of being bound by hard disciplinary lines, we are allowed and encouraged to work them. This has allowed me to think outside of the box and consider, as well as invite, issues in new ways. I am especially indebted to CCI leadership for their forward thinking.”

This collaborative philosophy is further reflected in the Kent faculty contributions. D’Enbeau co-authored a chapter entitled “Aging Masculinity in Popular Culture: The Case of Mad Men’s Roger Sterling,” and Lin and Haridakis co-authored a chapter entitled “Golden Agers, Recluses, and John Wayne: Aging Stereotypes and Aging Heroes in Movie Westerns.”

“My co-author Dr. Patrice Buzzanell and I were so excited to have another opportunity to work with Norma on a popular culture project," D'Enbeau said. "Our chapter takes an in-depth look at Mad Men’s Roger Sterling as an aging hero. We contend that Roger presents possibilities for viewers to contemplate successful aging, reflective masculinities, and a rearticulation of what it means to be an older American man.”

With regard to their contribution, Drs. Haridakis and Lin said, “The purpose of our chapter was to first provide a very brief overview of some of the social scientific research on age stereotypes and communication to help readers gain a general picture of this topic. Then, we focused on how one of those arguable stereotypical ‘older adult’ categories has been presented in one specific media genre: the aging hero in movie Westerns – and how that portrayal has generally been a positive portrayal of an older character.”

Jones said she hopes that the publication can start and continue conversations about real-world and “healthy” aging.

“I see a very different way of treating aging individuals in the U.S. as compared to the culture of my birth,” says Jones. “In other words, and on a personal level, I really do not understand why some consider being old as a bad thing.”

POSTED: Monday, August 24, 2015 - 3:38pm
UPDATED: Monday, August 24, 2015 - 3:43pm
Emily Komorowski