Alternative Imaginaries, Gothic Temporalities: An Ethnography of the Cultural Construction of Aging in the Goth Subculture
Bush, Leah J.
Paoletti, Jo B.
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This ethnographic thesis examines the cultural construction of aging in the Goth subculture in Baltimore, Maryland. Formed in Britain in the late 1970s, Goth retains a relatively high number of Elder Goths who participate in the subculture beyond their youth. By combining interdisciplinary analyses of Goth in the American imaginary with the lived experience of Goths over 40 in everyday life and the nightclub, I argue that participation in the Goth subculture presents an alternative to being aged by culture. Elder Goths subvert constructions of age-appropriate normativity by creating individualized “Gothic temporalities” to navigate through the challenges of adulthood and imagine their futures. This thesis underscores the importance of reconceptualizing aging as a lifespan project. Deconstructing age categories moves authority away from structural forces which support ageism and places power in the hands of individual agents.