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

French literary milestones in the history of ageing

From Simone de Beauvoirs La Vieillesse (Old Age, 1970) to Annie Ernauxs Les Années (The Years, 2008), French literature, and especially womens writings have aroused a new interest in the topic of ageing in our modern societies.

Simone de Beauvoir og Annie Ernaux
Simone de Beauvoir and Annie Ernaux
Litteraturhuset i Bergen

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Simone de Beauvoir is the first real milestone of this new perspective. Her vision is more political and more ethical than her predecessors. Her wrath against the mishandling and disrespect of elderly people is also inspired by her experience of her mothers last weeks in a French hospital. de Beauvoir managed the combination of leadership in old age studies and leadership in womens commitment. Her heritage inspired important autobiographical and novelistic writings about growing old in France.

The whole work of French writer Annie Ernaux (born in 1940), who was a young baby boomer when Beauvoir wrote her essay, pays its debt to her role model: from A Woman, the portrait of her mother growing old with Alzheimer’s disease, to her self-portrait as a mature and then senescent woman in The Years.

Do we age in the same way as our parents or grand-parents ? How do we keep in touch with the younger generations? How can literature, photography, popular songs, serve humor, butalso nostalgia, the archiving of the self and the duty of transmission?

Lecturer: Martine Boyer-Weinmann, Professor of Modern and Classical Literature (Université Lumière-Lyon 2).

The lecture will be held in english.

The event is organized as a collaboration between the research project Historicizing the ageing self (UiB, Deparment of foreign languages) and Litteraturhuset i Bergen.