1st Edition

Critical Humanities and Ageing Forging Interdisciplinary Dialogues

Edited By Marlene Goldman, Kate de Medeiros, Thomas Cole Copyright 2022
    342 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    342 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Providing a critical humanities approach to ageing, this book addresses new directions in age studies: the meaning and workings of "ageism" in the twenty-first century, the vexed relationship between age and disability studies, the meanings and experiences of "queer" aging; the fascinating, yet often elided work of age activists; and, finally, the challenges posed by AI and, more generally, transhumanism in the context of caring for an ageing population.

    Divided into four parts: Part I: What Does It Mean to Grow Old? Part II: Aging: Old Age and Disability Part III: Aging, Old Age, and Activism Part IV: Old Age and Humanistic Approaches to Care the volume provides an innovative, two-part structure that facilitates rather than merely encourages interdisciplinary collaboration across the humanities and social sciences. Each essay is thus followed by two short critical responses from disciplinary viewpoints that diverge from that of the essay’s author.

    Drawing on work from across the humanities - philosophy, fine arts, religion, and literature, this book will be a useful supplemental text for courses on age studies, sociology and gerontology at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

    Part I What Does It Mean to Grow Old?

    Chapter 1 – Abolition, Women's Rights, and the Contested Value of Being Old in the Nineteenth-Century United States
    Corinne Field

    Response 1 – Abstracting Ageist Perceptions, Societal Ills, and Racist Burdens on the Psychological Well-being of Black Women: Is "Successful" Aging Still an Option?
    Tamara A. Baker

    Chapter 2 – There is No Such Thing as "the Elderly": Reading Age in Nineteenth-Century American Literature
    Sari Edelstein

    Response 2 – Intersectionality and Age
    Julia Twigg

    Chapter 3 – Cognition and Recognition in the Ethics of Dementia Care
    Bruce Jennings

    Response 3 – Philosophical Approaches to Dementia: Some Further Reflections on Agency and Identity
    Chris Gilleard

    Chapter 4 – Agency and the Aging Artist
    Michael and Linda Hutcheon

    Response 4 – The Art of Bending the Successful Aging Paradigm: Contemporary Older Artists and their Continuing Creative Practices
    Aagje Swinnen

    Part II: Aging: Old Age and Disability

    Chapter 5 – What the Theatre Taught Me about Alzheimer’s
    Elinor Fuchs

    Response 5 – Fuchs’ Case for Stranger Visions
    Neal King

    Chapter 6 – Ableism and Ageism: Insights from Disability Studies for Aging Studies
    Joel Michael Reynolds and Anna Landre

    Response 6 – Fears Generating Ageism and Ableism Are Well-Founded in a Society that Does Not Seek or Support Full Inclusion of All Persons
    Michelle Putnam

    Chapter 7 – In Conversation with Sally Chivers: Reimagining Long-Term Residential Care
    Sally Chivers

    Response 7 – Aging and Caring amid Words, Stories, and Texts
    Janelle Taylor

    Chapter 8 – Queer Aging and the Significance of (Narrative) Representation
    Linda M. Hess

    Response 8 – What We Miss
    David J. Ekerdt

    Part III: Aging, Old Age, and Activism

    Chapter 9 – Conceptualizing Ageism: From Prejudice and Discrimination to Fourth Ageism
    Paul Higgs

    Chapter 10 – Aging in the Anthropocene: Generational Time, Declining Longevity, Posthuman Aging
    Kathleen Woodward

    Response 10 – Aging in the Anthropocene: Geological Time, Generational Place
    Daniel Hoornweg

    Chapter 11 – Critical Conversations on Aging Futures: Decolonial Perspectives
    May Chazan, Jenn Cole, and Tasha Beeds

    Response 11 – The Age of (Relentless) Responsibility
    Sandy Grande

    Part IV: Old Age and Humanistic Approaches to Care

    Chapter 12 – Intimacy and Distance: Reflections on Eldercare in the United States
    Rüdiger Kunow

    Response 12 – Towards a Deeper Understanding of Care in Later Life
    Des O’Neill

    Chapter 13 – Care Work and the Politics of Interdependence
    Amanda Ciafone

    Response 13 – Developing New Forms of Care: From Individual to Collective Agency
    Christopher Phillipson

    Chapter 14 – Posthuman Care and Posthumous Life in Marjorie Prime
    Amelia DeFalco

    Response 14 – Only Persons Can Provide Person-Centered Care for People Living with Dementia: "Walter Prime" and His Ilk Miss the Mark
    Stephen R. Sabat

    Chapter 15 – Risky Business: Bringing Transformative Creativity to U.S. Nursing Homes
    Kate de Medeiros and Anne Basting

    Response 15 – Valuing Risk in Residential Long-term Care: Setting an Important Ethical Standard for Supporting and Nurturing Human Flourishing
    Pia Kontos


    Marlene Goldman is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Toronto who specializes in Canadian literature, age studies, and medical humanities. In addition to her scholarly works, she has also written, directed, and produced a short film about dementia entitled "Piano Lessons" based on Alice Munro’s short story "In Sight of the Lake" from her collection Dear Life (2004). Her film Torching the Dusties, about ageing and intergenerational warfare from Margaret Atwood’s recent collection Stone Mattress (2014), premiered at the Fright Festival in London, U.K.

    Kate de Medeiros is the O’Toole Family Professor of Gerontology in the Department of Sociology and Gerontology and a Scripps Research Fellow at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. Dr. de Medeiros’s research is broadly focused on understanding the experience of later life using narratives and other qualitative and mix-methods approaches. Research topics include storying later life, the meaning of home, suffering in old age, generativity, moral development in later life, and friendships and social connectivity among people living with dementia.

    Thomas R. Cole is the McGovern Chair and Director of the McGovern Center for Humanities and Ethics at University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. His work has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, and PBS. Cole has served as an advisor to the President’s Council on Bioethics and the United Nations NGO Committee on Ageing. His book The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Aging in America was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

    It raises many of the current debates or concerns of the field, from ableism to anthropocentrism, from issues of language or embodiment to performativity and productivity. There is, therefore, lots that is new for those working in the field but also much for students or academics engaging with the field of humanities and ageing for the first time.

    Ageing & Society (2023), 1–3