Representations of Ageing in Literature

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Atatürk University

Abstract proposals for 20-minute paper presentations are invited for a two-day conference hosted by Atatürk University in Erzurum, Türkiye. This international conference on ageing and its representations in literature will be held on 18-19 April 2024.

Ageing can be perceived as a process of growing, of acquiring wisdom and experience, but more often than not it is associated with undesirable changes and consequences. The prejudice and stereotypes that people are subjected to as they grow old led Robert Neil Butler to coin the term ‘ageism’ in the 1960s, the same decade when the term ‘sexism’ made its appearance. Mirroring the distinction between sex and gender, the emergence of the field of ageing studies expanded the understanding of ageing as a biological process, to recognise its culturally constructed nature. As is the case with any aspect of life, literature represents one of the channels through which our understanding of ageing is being shaped. At first glimpse, literary works may appear to gravitate around younger protagonists with figures such as mothers, fathers, witches in fairy tales, and the chorus of the elderly in classical Greek drama serving only as supportive characters in the development of the protagonists, their function being reduced to roles of minor impact. Yet, the more one looks, the more visible the significance of older figures becomes. In certain instances, ageing and older people’s journey becomes the main story. William Shakespeare’s King Lear, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera or Memories of My Melancholy Whores, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Coming of Age, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending are some of the many texts that engage with the impact of ageing on individuals and societies from different intriguing perspectives.

International Symposium on Representations of Ageing in Literature seeks to explore the theme of ageing as it has been handled throughout times and cultures in literary works of all kinds. We seek contributions that consider (but are not limited to) the following topics:

• Ageing and adaptation studies

• Ageing and ageism

• Ageing and ecocriticism

• Ageing and ethics    

• Ageing and immortality

• Ageing as intergenerational conflict

• Ageing and gender

• Ageing and medical humanities

• Ageing and memory

• Ageing and posthumanism

• Ageing and precariat

• Ageing and stereotypes/myths

• Ageing and the body

Abstracts of no more than 300 words and a short bio (100-150 words) in Word format should be sent to with subject title 'Representations of Ageing in Literature’ by 15 February 2024 for consideration by the symposium committee. Decisions and the programme of the symposium will be announced by 1 March 2024.

All abstracts and full papers will be published in conference proceedings, which will be digitally sent to the presenters after the conference.

Registration is free, however, travel and accommodation expenses should be covered by the participants.