Friday, December 28, 2007

Jaschik, Scott. "Identity Studies for Everyone [Introducing Age Studies]." INSIDE HIGHER ED December 28, 2007.

Critics of the MLA love to mock the proliferation of identity-based studies while proponents see an embrace of diversity that has provided a fuller understanding of literature and art. As the MLA kicked off this year’s annual meeting Thursday night, a session on the schedule proposed a new way to analyze: age studies. While pediatrics and gerontology are established medical specialties, and sociologists and anthropologists have long looked at age and aging in different societies, humanities scholars have largely focused on other issues. The panelists at the MLA session and a growing number of other researchers are working to change that, publishing criticism that focuses on the age of characters and the meanings conveyed about age, aging, generations and identity. A major contention of age studies scholars is that age isn’t just about how the body changes as time passes, but about the way culture and society define people at various stages of life. These scholars say that they are applying the ideas of those who redefined the way gender and ethnicity are viewed. “I think it is like each of the previous revolutions,” says Margaret Morganroth Gullette, a scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center of Brandeis University. “We’re all saying the same thing and that thing is: What you think is nature is culture. Women got it that gender was culture and people of color got it that race was culture, but everyone ages, and they age under the sign of biology, and they think they are being aged in the body — innocently — as if anything that happens in a culture is totally innocent.” . . . Read the rest here:

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