[Msa-discuss] Geriatric Modernism (CFP for MSA18, 17-20 November 2016)

Heather Fielding heathervf at gmail.com
Mon Feb 15 11:35:40 EST 2016

Geriatric Modernism (CFP for MSA18, 17-20 November 2016)

Simone de Beauvoir saw old age as a category of unrecognized but radical
difference, a situation of being “outside humanity.” The old, Beauvoir
argues, are foreigners, even to themselves. Ann Kaplan has similarly
theorized old age as an experience of ideological trauma, while Kathleen
Woodward shows that the old, and old women in particular, are incompatible
with psychoanalytic models of the subject. For all of these theorists, old
age is a troubling site of psychic violence, where our understandings of
identity, subjectivity, and humanity come under pressure. This proposed
panel for the 2016 conference of the Modernist Studies Association poses
the question of what old age meant to modernism. In Beauvoir’s historical
narrative, the question of old age became particularly urgent in the early
and mid twentieth century, which witnessed a shift in the culture of aging:
age seemed to become the condition of all humanity, not its outer limit.
Human civilization itself took on the mantle of the old person, as human
knowledge, rather than accumulating and growing, instead became obsolete.
This panel takes up Beauvoir’s interest in both historicizing and
theorizing aging in modernism, that literary period known for its
investment in the new.

Papers might consider:

·      The old body in modernism

·      Aging and memory or time

·      The narrative function of age in modernist texts

·      Texts centered around old people (Samuel Beckett’s *Malone Dies, *Ronald
Firbank’s *Valmouth*, Wyndham Lewis’s *The Apes of God*, Muriel Spark’s *A
Far Cry From Kensington, *Barbara Pym’s *Quartet in Autumn*, Doris
Lessing’s *Diary of Jane Somers*)

·      Mythic old age (Tiresias, the sibyl, the crone)

·      Modernist writers in their own old age

·      Generational divides in modernism

·      The modernist grandparent

·      The aged person vs the aged civilization

·      Old age in/and the culture industry

·      Age and celebrity culture in the early 20th century

Conference: MSA 18, Pasadena, 17-20 November 2016

Please send 250 word abstracts along with brief biographical notes to
Heather Fielding at hfieldin at purdue.edu by March 25, 2016.
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