CfP: Representations of Age and Ageing in American Culture

by admin on January 19, 2018

Croatian Association for American Studies (CAAS) announces a Call for Papers for the 6th Annual Workshop in American Studies to be held in Zadar, Croatia, 15-16 June 2018. This year’s topic of the CAAS American Studies workshop focuses on representations of age and ageing in American society and culture. We are delighted to announce that our guest speaker is Prof. Dr. Roberta Maierhofer (University of Graz), a renowned ageing studies and American studies scholar. Click for more details.

6th Annual CAAS American Studies Workshop, Zadar, Croatia, 15-16 June 2018: Representations of Age and Ageing in American Culture

This year’s topic of the CAAS American Studies workshop focuses on representations of age and ageing in American society and culture. Acknowledging trends such as the “massification of old age,” “longevity revolution” (Butler), and the changing demographics of the Western societies, we ask the presenters to address a plethora of issues that encapsulate our society’s attitudes to age, to ageing, to ages of man, to bodily and mental changes pertaining to different ages, and to cultural assumptions and misconceptions attending to different ages (young, middle, old). How do the humanities and social sciences, and literary and cultural texts in particular, address the transformations—mental, social, bodily, health/medical, cognitive, emotional, economic—accompanying the processes of senescence? How do the race, class, and gender factors, separately or in conjunction, inflect the process of ageing? Welcoming comparatist approaches to the set topic, we hope to receive inquiries and research into cultural specificities of age and ageing in different societies. We conceive of the topic in broad interdisciplinary terms, working at the intersection of American studies, ageing studies, medical humanities, literary gerontology, the corporeal turn, studies of affect and emotions, and the like, and thus invite proposals touching on any of these fields. In short, we pose the underlying question: how is “age identity constructed in literature and in society, for both young and old” (Maierhofer)?
We are delighted to announce that our guest speaker is Prof. Dr. Roberta Maierhofer (University of Graz), a renowned ageing studies and American studies scholar.
More particular concerns should address the following broadly devised topics, among others:

  • American cultural attitudes to age and ageing
  • Ageing, individualism, interdependence in American culture
  • Age and ageing in a historical perspective
  • Gendered narratives of age and ageing
  • Race and age/ ageing
  • Class-based narratives of age and ageing
  • Ageing and (re)distribution of resources
  • Age/ ageing and consumer culture, leisure and cultural industries
  • Age-appropriate/ age-related emotions?
  • Ageing and creativity (Frederick Douglass, Walt Whitman, Don DeLillo…)
  • The genre of pathography (illness memoirs/ autobiography) and the medicalization of the ageing body
  • Age-centered literary genres: the Bildungsroman, the sentimental novel, the domestic novel, memoirs…

Deadline for the submission of proposals is March 31, 2018. Notification of acceptance will be sent out by April 15, 2018.
Please send your proposals of no more than 300 words, and a short bio, by March 31, 2018 to all of the following addresses:;; . Please note that each presentation is allotted 15 minutes of talk time, followed by discussion.
Registration and payment deadline: May 30, 2018.
Workshop fee: 300 HRK (40 euros)
Workshop fee for non-waged participants (students, postdocs, etc.): 150 HRK (20 euros)
For CAAS and AASSEE members, their annual membership fee is the equivalent of the workshop fee.

Payment instructions:

IBAN: HR3623600001102165811
Beneficiary: Croatian Association for American Studies, Ivana Lucica 3, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia
Amount payable: 40 Euros (300 HRK) for waged participants; 20 Euros (150 HRK) for non-waged participants (students, postdocs, etc)
Reference: CAAS 2018 workshop fee

Below is the summary of the keynote lecture and a short bio of our speaker.

Roberta Maierhofer: “Anocriticism or Start Pretending to Be an Old Woman: Critical Approaches to Age/ing in American Fiction”
Based on my research on American literature, I have developed a critical approach to understanding age/ing as a feminist response to the traditional meanings of the concept and an alternative way of imagining subjectivity and embodiment over the life-course. By linking theories of gender and age, I propose a search for a specific culture of aging in the tradition of Elaine Showalter’s “gynocriticism” – a study of women writers and of the history, styles, themes, genres and structures of writing by women. Germaine Greer uses the Latin word “anus” – “old woman” – to create the term of “anophobia” to describe the fear of old women. I suggest the term “anocriticism” as a method to trace the aspect of aging through narratives in order to generate understanding for what it means – in Margaret Morganroth Gullette’s term – to be “aged by culture.” In her essay “The Space Crone” (1976), Ursula Le Guin suggests an old woman as “an exemplary person” to explain to friendly aliens from the fourth planet of Altair the human condition as a constant form of transformation in order for them to understand “the nature of the race.” In my paper, I will pay tribute to Ursula Le Guin concerning the way she offers a new way of imagining the “human condition” to explore existential challenges and “the incredible realities of our existence” in terms of gender and age. If identity is defined by both continuity and change over a life course, the importance is to not only narrate one’s life, but also interpret these narrations in an on-going process of dialogue. Especially in terms of age/ing, the feminist approach of knowing both one’s possibilities as well as one’s limitations is a political act of resistance. In order to explain anocriticism in more detail, I will use examples from American fiction.

Roberta Maierhofer is Professor of (Inter)American Studies at the University of Graz, Austria, and Adjunct Professor at Binghamton University, New York. From 1999-2011, she served as Vice Rector for International Relations of the University of Graz. Since 2007, she has been directing the Center for Inter-American Studies of the University of Graz. Her research focuses on (Inter)American Literature and Cultural Studies, Feminist Literature and Research, Transatlantic Cooperation in Education and Age/Aging Studies. Roberta Maierhofer holds a master’s and a doctoral degree from the University of Graz as well as an M.A. degree in comparative literature from SUNY Binghamton. In her publication Salty Old Women: Gender, Age, and Identity in American Culture, she developed a theoretical approach to gender and aging (anocriticism) and was one of the first in Europe in early 1990 to define her work within the field of Cultural/ Narrative Gerontology.

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