Learning a New Language: Performing Identity in Later Life (MLA 5-8 Jan. 2012, abstract by March 7)

full name / name of organization: 
Valerie Lipscomb
contact email: 

In this proposed 2012 MLA special session, sponsored by the Age Studies Discussion Group, panelists examine the mutually constitutive relationship between performance and aging. Performances of the self may be altered by, and alter, the physical, mental, and emotional states accompanying age. Changes that emerge through age may require learning a new language of the body, often in the face of cultural and linguistic bias. When considering the performative aspects of age and identity, how applicable are critical concepts of literary aging studies, such as those of Kathleen Woodward, Anne Basting, Neal King, Margaret Gullette, Stephen Katz, Anne Wyatt-Brown, and Margaret Cruikshank? Topics may include, but are not limited to, how literature represents performance and/or performative aspects of the following:

Changes in mobility or independence
Changes in physical ability or appearance
The dying process
Grieving or other emotions
Health, including dementia, Alzheimer's disease, stroke,
palliative care, and preventative care
Mental ability or learning
Perceptions of serenity
Perceptions of wisdom
Productivity, retirement, or post-retirement careers
Purchasing power
Recreational activities
Relationships within families
Relocation or travel
Romantic relationships

Please email a 300-word abstract by 7 March to lipscomb@sar.usf.edu

All panel participants must be members of the MLA by April 1, 2011.