Live to Be a Hundred: Cultural Narratives of Longevity (CGD, Maastricht University)
The term longevity refers to lives that last significantly longer than is expected. Sometimes it is equated with the increase of the life expectancy of humans. As such, longevity has been the focus of political criticism and policy-making in the West (whose population increasingly grows older), and the object of study in many academic disciplines, ranging from biotechnology and health sciences to cultural history and the philosophy of ideas. Literature and art theorists as well as specialists in media and film studies, however, have been relatively silent on the topic. When representations of old age are studied, attention is mostly drawn to the stage of third age, or the group of healthy, active elderly. Fourth age, or the lives of the oldest elderly, has attracted limited research interest. Therefore, this project, for the first time, brings leading literature, art, media, and film scholars from Western Europe and North America together to study cultural narratives of longevity. Their collaboration facilitates the further establishment of the field of aging studies from a humanities' perspective, based on a methodology developed from comparative cultural studies, narrative theory, and critical gerontology.
This project does not start from the master narrative of decline that the last stage of life is often identified with, but from the fascination that (super)centenarians bring about. As opposed to the fear of growing old and being old, living to be a hundred or even older is generally considered to be a landmark to register and celebrate. Specific themes of research have been defined along three lines, which are imagining, remembering and mediating longevity. First, the project studies how narratives about exceptional and improbable human longevity (the so-called genre of longevity stories) are told and retold at different times and in different media. Second, the project contributes to the understanding of how the encounter with (super)centenarians as living witnesses of the past century inspires contemporary artists to creative practices of commemoration. Third, the project aims to critically adjust concepts of late style by means of the analysis of the work of (super)centenarian artists.
This project secured funding from NWO (Program: Internationalization in the Humanities)
SIforAGE: Social Innovation on active and healthy ageing for sustainable economic growth (Grup Dedal-Lit, University of Lleida)
The general aim of SIforAGE project will be to strengthen the cooperation mechanisms and tools among the stakeholders working along the value chain of active and healthy ageing, with the aim of improving the performance of the European Union competitiveness and growth, through research and innovative products for more and better lives.
The objective is change minds and attitudes for a new vision of ageing. This new way of understanding ageing has been embraced under the concept of “active and healthy ageing” (AHA), as an inclusive term to framework the transformation of ageing vision.
The specific objectives addressed in the project will be:
1. To develop the supporting tools and mechanisms for the Social Innovation Incubator on AHA
2. To engage and empower society and civil society organisations in research on AHA.
3. To introduce evidence-based policymaking, through training activities with policymakers, to address future shaping of ageing research programmes and funding schemes
4. To raise awareness among the scientific community on the importance of social responsibility and ethics in ageing research, and offer practical guidance on how to address them.
5. To analyse and improve the existing mechanisms for accessing the market of innovative products and solutions for older people
6. To actively involve the wide range of stakeholders of the value chain and spread knowledge generated along the project duration
The consortium involved in the project is compounded of 20 different partners at EU and International level, representing a remarkable well-balanced consortium with complementary backgrounds and expertise and representing different stakeholders along the value chain of ageing research, from universities, civil society organisations, final users groups, think tanks, public administrations, technology research centers and companies. As member of the European Network in Ageing Studies (ENAS), the Dedal-Lit Reseach Group (UdL) is part of the SIforAGE consortium.
This project secured funding under the EU Seventh Framework Program (Theme: Science in Society, Mobilisation and Mutual Learning (MML) Action Plans: mainstreaming SiS actions in research)
Aging and Gender in Contemporary Literary Creativity in English (Grup Dedal-Lit, University of Lleida)
This project looks into the ways in which aging and gender specificity interact in the literary works of aged women writers, and, at the same time, enquires into works of literary creation that contribute to the questioning of negative constructions and stereotypes of aging and to the emphasizing of the heterogeneity that characterizes the experience of aging. With this revision of traditional, negative and homogenizing constructs, an extensive range of representations of aging is opened up, representations that may be extrapolated and propagated in wider sectors of the present-day population.
Taking these complementary hypotheses as a point of departure, this project analyses the effects deriving from longevity and gender identity through the study of a number of contemporary women authors with an international dimension who have continued to write in their over-60s. In particular, our research will center on the late writing of American, British and Irish women authors representative of advanced and aging societies like our own and it will seek an answer to questions such as: What changes in the writing process of a woman author in her late age? Are thematic or formal changes observed which may also contribute to a new phase of experimentation in late age? Up to what point can these changes differ from those presented in the work of men writers of similar age and situation? In what way can literary creation modify individual and socio-cultural perceptions of the women writers' identity as a woman in late age? Beyond the literary field, our project will seek to undermine stereotypes of passivity which often have been associated with late-aging and with women. For this reason, our research will also be useful in other fields of study, such as gerontology, psychology and sociology, and in each of these disciplines from the perspective of gender studies.
Financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivity
The Performance of Age Identities in Online Dating 50 plus (CGD, Maastricht University)
Online dating sites, as ‘marketplaces’ to advertise oneself and to seek desired others, seem to offer an efficient way of finding new love. Contrary to ageist assumptions that stigmatize older people as being asexual, socially withdrawn, and resistant to technological innovations such as computers and the Internet, it is increasingly common for older singles to search for dates and romance via online dating services. In a culture that is pervaded by the discourses of consumerism and ‘successful aging,’ the proactive search for a new partner via a dating service can be considered as a move towards personal fulfillment. Taking the initiative by putting oneself on the ‘single market’ does, however, also come with uncomfortable effects, especially for the older generation. The objectifying nature of online dating requires users to enact attractive versions of their Selves. Youth, associated with fun, energy, sexuality, intensity and hope, is commonly considered to constitute a ‘good selling point.’ Old age in contrast, associated with loss and decline, seems inherently unattractive. For older people, the negotiation of their age becomes a crucial and complicating aspect of their self-presentation.
To scrutinize these dynamics, and the many ways in which age identities are negotiated within the enabling constrains posed by various cultural and technological scripts, this project understands autobiographical acts in online dating as performative. It investigates how dating services (as producers), dating sites (as technological artifact) and older online daters (as users) play part in the culturally situated performance of age identities. Situated in the field of Aging Studies, the project seeks to raise critical awareness for dating and courtship amongst the older generation. In addition, insights about the ways in which older users of dating services engage with the technologies will provide an idea about how this group relates to contemporary technological culture.
is funded by the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht
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The Becoming of Age: Cinematic visions of mind, body and identity in later life
Aging, Narrative, and Performance: Essays from the Humanities
A special issue of the International Journal of Ageing and Later Life
Thematic Issue of the Journal of Lesbian Studies
Call for Papers
International Women, Ageing and Media Research Summer School
Call for Abstracts
Mirror Mirror: Representations and reflections on age and ageing
A two-day event hosted by the London College of Fashion.
Age, Culture, Humanities - An Interdisciplinary Journal
Announcement of Publication