BARS Blog

BARS Blog

News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Call for Papers: Narratives of Ageing in the Nineteenth Century

University of Lincoln, 23rd July 2019 – website here

Organisers: Dr Alice Crossley, Dr Amy Culley, and Dr Rebecca Styler

Plenary Speaker: Prof. Devoney Looser, Arizona State University

‘Ageing in Public: Women Authors in the Nineteenth Century’

This conference responds to the burgeoning critical interest of humanities scholars in age, ageing, and stages of life from childhood to old age in the nineteenth century.

The figure of the child and the imaginative investment in the idea of childhood are the focus of seminal studies of ageing in this period.

However, recent critical engagements have suggested the value of exploring ageing identities and cultural articulations of age across the life course, in dialogue with one another, and from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

In light of this development, this conference seeks to address the experiences, conceptions, and representations of the ageing process in the literature and culture of the nineteenth century.

W.P. Frith’s ‘Many Happy Returns’ (1856) ‘Harrogate Museums and Arts, Harrogate Borough Council’

We welcome papers from all humanities disciplines (including, but not restricted to, English, History, Art History, and Religious Studies) and covering a diverse range of media, forms, and genres, such as fiction, poetry, drama, life writing, conduct literature, children’s literature, religious writing, periodicals, portraiture, photography, satirical prints, material culture, medical literature, institutions and their discourses, longevity literature, advertising, elegy.

Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Relationships between stages of the life course: childhood, adolescence, maturity, midlife, old age, longevity, premature ageing, infantilization
  • Ageing and relationships: inter and intra-generational friendship, age heterogamy, familial roles (mothers, fathers, grandparents), sociability
  • Ageing and intersectionality (gender, class, sexuality, race, religion, nation)
  • Developments in critical gerontology, view of the field in relation to C19th studies
  • Ageing and authorship: juvenilia and ‘late style’, age and critical reception
  • Materiality of ageing: souvenirs, tokens, evocative objects
  • Ageing and the body: health, illness, puberty/menopause, sexuality
  • Ageism, gerontophobia, ageing as decline and counter-cultural narratives
  • Ageing as cultural performance, age-consciousness and (dis)identification
  • Nostalgia, recollection, memory
  • Ageing in the light of faith/doubt
  • Ageing and a sense of place: home, travel, institutions, nature, revisiting and returning

We are delighted that a selection of papers from the conference will form the basis of a special issue on ‘Narratives of Ageing in the Nineteenth Century’ for the journal Age, Culture, Humanities to appear in 2021.

Please send proposals of no more than 200 words by 30th April 2019