Male Aging in German Literature, Art, and Film since 1900

Northeast Modern Language Association Convention (NeMLA)

March 17-20, 2016, Hartford, CT

This panel explores the gendered perception of aging through analyses of figures of aging men in German-language literature, art, and film since 1900. During the nineteenth century, an emphasis on physical and mental decline replaced the earlier association of aging with growing wisdom and dignity. Simultaneously, a new bourgeois male ideal took hold, favoring youth and promoting a healthy, strong young physique to represent this society's core values. This negative view of aging prevailed throughout the twentieth century, affecting the (self-)perception of aging/old men to this day. Recent findings in aging and gender studies have emphasized the interconnectedness of age and gender, maintaining that the neglect of questions of age and aging in the gender debates leads to unrealistically homogeneous, restrictive conceptions of masculinity and femininity. In turn, aging studies needs to be aware of the gender-specific physical, mental, and emotional experiences associated with aging as it explores, for instance, the social dynamics of ageism and old age care. As literary, artistic, and cinematic works reflect and react to their respective social contexts, they offer a hitherto neglected perspective on the changes in notions of aging and masculinity and the development of ageism and its effects in the German-speaking countries in the twentieth century.

Possible topics for presentations include, but are not limited to, gender-specific depictions of physical and mental decline, social status of aging men, male characters' reactions to (signs of) their aging, attempts to halt/reverse the aging process, male aging and desire, male aging as feminization, aging and/as disease, aging men as comic/sad/perverse/wise. Please contact Esther Bauer at [log in to unmask] with questions.  Please submit 300-word abstracts establishing your approach at by September 30, 2015.

The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Assistant Editor:  Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
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