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Historicizing the ageing self: Literature, medicine, psychology, law

Network project September 2015 – July 2017

Defining Frameworks and Tools for an Interdisciplinary Approach to Ageing (Humanities, Medicine, Psychology and Law).

This network project seeks to develop a theoretical and methodological basis for an interdisciplinary investigation of ageing and old age in Western culture, especially as they are represented in various forms of literary texts. The objective is to contribute to a cultural history of senescence by including medical, psychological and legal perspectives in the interpretation of literary texts that deal with the subjective experience of ageing as well as stereotypical figures of old age.

Network activities have been used to establish an international, interdisciplinary team (bringing together scholars of the Humanities, Medicine, Psychology and Law) and to develop frameworks and tools for the long term research project Historicizing the Ageing Self: Literature, Medicine, Psychology, Law which starts in October 2016 within the SAMKUL programme.

The network grant was intended for three major events:

  1. A meeting organized at the Norwegian University Center in Rome in October 2015, invited participants to address the following question: Why should literature be privileged in disciplinary approaches to ageing?
     
  2. A research seminar called Ageing Brains and Minds, Ageing Senses and Sentiments, took place at the Norwegian University Center in Paris in May 2016, allowing literary scholars, cultural historians, neurologists and psychiatrists to discuss literary and visual representations of old age and dementia.
     
  3. In November 2016 a work meeting will be organized to consolidate the group of project members from the University of Bergen. This group includes scholars of comparative literature, cultural history, medicine, psychology and law. The objective of this meeting is to give the participants the opportunity to respond, from the viewpoint of their respective disciplines, to questions regarding the relevance of historicization and interdisciplinary border crossing in the study of ageing. This is essential for developing a common framework for the project.

    This work meeting will also be used to prepare the event Defining Old Age which will take place in Bergen in June 2017. The aim of this seminar is to bring together scholars from literary studies, psychology and law to focus on the variety of historical and contemporary definitions of old age. Deeper knowledge of the diversity of cultural and societal categorizations of old age, may allow us to recognize how these categorizations can contribute to ageism as well as provide valuable nuances to our perception of old age.