Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University
Age, Culture, Humanities: an Interdisciplinary Journal aims to “consider age as a category of identity, advance understanding of the aging process and of age differences across the lifespan, interrogate cultural articulations of aging and old age, and generate innovative, engaging scholarly approaches to the study of age and aging in the humanities.” It views age through the “lens of the humanities and arts.” The journal is affiliated with the North American Network in Aging Studies (NANAS) and the European Network in Aging Studies (ENAS). The editors seek a variety of material for publication, including: rigorous scholarly articles of 6,000-9,000 words in length on topics that investigate the critical intersections of the arts and humanities with the aging process; scholarly position papers or curated fora on critical themes related to the aging process; well-theorized essays on teaching humanities approaches to age and aging; reviews of recent books relevant to aging and of gerontology scholarship relevant to the arts and/or humanities; reviews of conferences in these fields; reviews of relevant digital humanities projects and research tools; reviews of recent fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, drama, film, performances, and art exhibitions relevant to aging or old age; and proposals for themed clusters in future issues.
Only a single annual issue, from Spring 2014, is available thus far, but it is rich with content, including five articles (“The Literacy Narrative of Chadwick’s The First Grader,” “Creativity, Productivity, Aging: The Case of Benjamin Britten,” “Assisted Living: “Acting Naturally” in Room 335,” “Depth, Significance, and Absence: Age-Effects in New British Theatre,” and “”Putting on Her White Hair”: The Life Course in Wilder’s The Long Christmas Dinner), three feature essays (“Age and History as Categories for Analysis: Refiguring Old Age,” ““Polyester Pants and Orthopedic Shoes” Introducing Age Studies to Traditional-Aged Undergraduates,” the position paper: “Euthanasia as a Caregiving Fantasy in the Era of the New Longevity,” Margaret Morganroth Gullette), and a response paper that follows it, a fascinating section called Credos, Manifestos, Reflections (which includes “The Future Is Certain: Manifesting Age, Culture, Humanities,” “What Is Age Studies?,” “Age and Aging Studies, From Cradle to Grave,” “Aging and Aging Studies: Celebrating the Cultural Turn,” “The Coming of Age Studies,” “Aging and the Exploration of Lived Ambivalence,” “The Importance of Aging Studies: Understanding the Influence of Diversity and Culture,” “Poised to Pass the Torch,” and “Intergenerative Transdisciplinarity in a Future of Aging Professions: New Words Are Not Enough.” The issue also has five book reviews and an Editor’s column, “Age Studies Comes of Age,” that discusses some of the age-related themes addressed by the journal: Friendship, Literacy, Creativity, Performance, Senicide, Residence homes, Disciplinary history, and Pedagogy.
In that Editor’s column, the issue editors (Cynthia Port and Aagje Swinnen) note that this new journal “appears at a pivotal moment in the field of critical age studies. In 2010, the Journal of Age, Humanities, and the Arts (JAHA), the official publication of the Humanities and Arts Committee of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA)… was discontinued by its publisher. Also in 2010, a three-year grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NOW) led to the formation of the European Network in Aging Studies (ENAS), … [while] January 2013 saw the founding of a sister organization, the North American Network in Aging Studies (NANAS), which serves as an interdisciplinary research hub to mobilize scholarly initiatives, foster interdisciplinary collaboration, and raise the visibility of the field.” They state that the journal “is honored to be affiliated with both of these galvanizing organizations and pleased to join such journal publications as the Humanities and Arts section of The Gerontologist, The Journal of Aging Studies, and the International Journal of Aging and Later Life (IJAL) as potential venues for the dissemination of research undertaken by their members,” and note that this inaugural issue of Age, Culture, Humanities contains material by scholars from departments of sociology, English, psychology and gender studies, mental health sciences, aging studies, gerontology and philosophy, history, and medicine, among others, representing a broad spectrum of perspectives that “review the history of critical age/ing studies, deliberate on its parameters, outline potential future directions, and identify some of the challenges scholars of age and aging currently face.”
Strongly recommended to librarians, scholars, and researchers in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences; although the focus is on the humanities, the leitmotif of aging studies across the disciplines is present throughout.