This article traces the way in which Canadian author Joan Barfoot's novel Exit Lines draws upon the pastoral tradition in its representation of old age. Pastoral literature has traditionally encoded ideologies of age, and it is the inclusion of pastoral tropes that structures Barfoot's participation in the discussion of population aging currently taking place across disciplines and in the popular media. Pastoral writing is characterized by an acceptance of vulnerability and loss, and this provides Barfoot with an effective counterpoint to a contemporary culture of positive aging founded on an ethic of bodily control that alternately stigmatizes and masks the existence of decline and dependency in late life. The novel questions the way in which the rhetoric of crisis that characterizes discussions of population aging threatens to generate resentment against the dependent elderly, whom the novel depicts as vulnerable to exploitation by those who stand to profit from this crisis.

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Keywords aging, Canadian literature, Exit Lines, Joan Barfoot, pastoral
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Journal American Review of Canadian Studies
Jamieson, S. (2012). Joan barfoot's exit lines and the pastoral of old age. American Review of Canadian Studies, 42(3), 370–383. doi:10.1080/02722011.2012.705866