2011 National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Conference
Atlanta, GA, November 10-13, 2011
For more conference details, see www.nwsa.org/conference/
Deadline to submit abstracts: February 11, 2011
· Live to Be a Hundred: Creative Interventions in Cultural Narratives of the Fourth Age
· Menopause: Transforming the Master’s Narratives
· From Bella Swan to Betty White: Gendered Aging in Popular Culture
Live to Be a Hundred: Creative Interventions in Cultural Narratives of the Fourth Age
Many of us as feminists and women’s studies scholars would agree with theorist Thomas Cole that cultural narratives, although in some sense very real, don’t “exist in some natural realm, independently of the ideals, images, and social practices that conceptualize and represent them.” Both we and Cole would argue that these narratives are largely constituted by acts of representation and are subject to cultural transformation. Yet, interestingly, Cole was focusing on an aspect of identity that appears infrequently in critical feminist thought: aging and old age. Although feminism as a discipline has yet to transform its own narratives about aging and old age, many feminists, such as Margaret Cruikshank (Learning to Be Old) and Margaret Gullette (Aged by Culture), urge us to make the connection between aging and narrative, and to examine how we, as feminists, can creatively intervene to transform our cultural narratives about women growing older. This panel welcomes papers that explore how we are incorporating or interpreting art, music, literature, film, or other creative media to study and re-vision cultural narratives of women in the fourth age, the oldest old, many of whom are living beyond one hundred. What alternative myths and tropes are we creating that will transform our understandings about what it means for women to reach and to live in the fourth age? Topics for these papers may include, but are not limited to:
- gender’s impact on narratives and images of those who have passed one hundred years old
- the fear and fascination that coexist within cultural narratives of the fourth age
- how feminists have politically challenged the cultural and material inequalities that the fourth age can bring by working for greater social justice that will improve these women’s lives
- feminist interventions that have distinguished dependency from incompetence , highlighting that strengths can coexist with frailty
- feminist representations of the fourth age as an achievement to be celebrated rather than a stage of life to be feared
- the narratives of visibility that explore the continuing growth and creativity of the oldest old
- how historical and material circumstances affect opportunities for late-life creativity
- the change over time in the cultural narratives and visual representations of the oldest old
- how depictions of aging and the oldest old can conflate personal anxieties about growing old with cultural attitudes about the future
- the alignment and disconnections between cultural narratives about the fourth age and women’s own narratives of their lives
Send 100-250 word abstracts with a title by February 11, 2011, to Pamela Gravagne at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, and email address.
Menopause: Transforming the Master’s Narratives
The definition and meaning(s) of menopause have long been contested ground. Feminist health narratives resisting the medicalization of menopause have battled dominant Western medical narratives of menopause as a deficiency disease in need of hormone replacement therapy. At the same time, menopausal women’s bodies have been a focal point for discourse on the nature of femininity and women’s roles, as well as the relationship between aging and gender and sexuality. This panel seeks papers that explore feminist interventions into scientific, cultural and public health debates about menopause, or how the debates over menopause have helped to shape feminist practices and women’s studies as a discipline. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:
· Feminist contributions and responses to scientific research on and cultural narratives about hormone replacement therapy
· Feminist critiques of traditional knowledge production about menopause (particularly the medicalization of menopause) and/or alternate feminist epistemologies of menopause
· Exploration of feminist appropriations of the politics of naming the menopausal experience (the change, the silent passage, crones, etc.)
· Feminist critiques, or feminist creations, of images and representations of menopausal women
· The impact of public debates about the meaning/treatment of menopause on feminist practices both in the academy and without
· Employing transnational menopausal experiences to challenge the dominant Western medical narrative of menopause
· Investigations of feminist attention to (or lack thereof) the politics of aging in the contesting narratives of menopause
Send 100-250 word abstracts by February 11, 2011 to Erin Gentry Lamb at email@example.com. Please include your full name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing and email addresses.
From Bella Swan to Betty White: Gendered Aging in Popular Culture
Responding to the theme of “Creative Interventions,” this panel seeks presentations which address the intersections of aging, women, and popular culture. From age-less vampires, to reality shows profiling the sex lives of senior citizens, to a successful Facebook campaign which resulted in Betty White’s recent Saturday Night hosting gig, age has recently been at the forefront of popular culture in a variety of ways.
What do our recent cultural productions tell us about the ways we view aging and gender? Is visibility about age always a positive, or does it still manifest itself in troubling ways? How do popular TV programs, films, books, and/or social media address the intersection of age and womanhood? What stereotypes do these texts promote or subvert? How can one approach such texts from a feminist viewpoint?
Send 100-250 word abstracts with a title by February 11, 2011, to Melanie Cattrell at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name, institutional affiliation (if applicable), mailing address, and email address.