Wisdom and Folly: Experiencing Aging in the Early Modern German World

My dissertation addresses the subject of old age and the elderly as an integrative and holistic study of both the experiences and discourses surrounding aging and this specific population of society for sixteenth century Germany. My work combines material from a variety of different sources to examine not only the larger cultural and communal implications surrounding aging, but also the importance and use of self-identification from elderly individuals through their biographies, journals, and family chronicles. Age, as I argue, encompassed more than a numerical value but instead depended on a complex balance of different factors in order to weigh the authority of lived experience against the vulnerability of a failing body or mind. I ask about the importance of these lived factor and how they shaped definitions of old age, to understand the experiences of aged individuals.