19-20 March 2018
Weetwood Hall, University of Leeds, UK
In recent decades, global research activity around ageing and the life course has grown exponentially. Work in the clinical sciences, and in the established field of gerontology, has explored the challenges and opportunities of ageing through investigations focusing on biological and biosocial elements. More recently, scholars in the humanities and the social sciences working in the field of ageing studies have been turning their attentions to the topic, offering interdisciplinary cultural and social analyses that are theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged. Within this category, a number of scholars across academic disciplines including history of medicine, philosophy, film studies, literature, law, sociology, psychology, and anthropology – and in the cross-disciplinary field of medical humanities – are united by a shared interest in historical perspectives on youth, ageing, and old age.
This two-day conference will bring together scholars whose work engages with the past, to share new perspectives on the role and value of historical approaches to ageing across disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences. Several key questions will frame the event:
- What can historical research on ageing and the life-course in the humanities and social sciences offer that is distinctive from modes of enquiry in these areas in the clinical sciences?
- To consider ageing in historical contexts is to encounter issues of disciplinary boundaries and hierarchies, dominant histories, and canonicity. What is the specific nature of these challenges, and how might they be navigated?
- Is it enough to reconstruct historical, socio-cultural contexts of ageing? Or should historical projects also develop innovative approaches that will address present-day issues?
- How might scholars in the humanities and social sciences whose work includes historical approaches work together across disciplinary boundaries?
- Who are the audiences for historical research in ageing? How might we communicate effectively with the academic sciences, with non-academic audiences, and with policy-makers and public-health organisations?
- What are the broader implications of this kind of work for developing further knowledge and understanding of the role of historical approaches to the study of human health, disability, disease, minds, and bodies?
We invite contributions in the form of 20-minute papers from scholars at any career stage, and from any discipline in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, broadly construed. Proposals from doctoral and early-career researchers are particularly welcomed. To submit a proposal, email an abstract of 250-300 words, together with a brief biographical note of no more than 150 words to Dr Catherine Oakley (C.M.C.Oakley@leeds.ac.uk), by 30 November 2017.
Papers might engage with the questions outlined above from a particular disciplinary perspective. Further topics could include, but are not restricted to:
- Senescence and old age
- Rejuvenation and anti-ageing
- Childhood, adolescence, and youth
- Ageing and scientific technologies
- Families and intergenerational relationships
- Age and demographic change
- Ageing in visual and material cultures
- Ageing, gender, sex and sexuality
- Work, retirement, and pensions
- Ethics of ageing
- Age, ageing, and youthfulness in popular culture
- Global perspectives on age and ageing
Confirmed keynote speakers include Dr Hyung Wook Park (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) whose recent book Old Age, New Science posits a close relationship between the emergence of gerontology and changing social perspectives of ageing in the first half of the twentieth century.
The conference is being organised as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project “Endless Possibilities of Rejuvenation: Defying Ageing, Defining Youth in Britain, 1919-1948”, led by Dr James Stark at the University of Leeds.