2018 Candidate Statements

Rachel Barken (York University)

Serving on NANAS’ Governing Council is an exciting opportunity to enrich dialogue among interdisciplinary age studies scholars. As a member of the Governing Council, I would focus on two major initiatives to strengthen NANAS’ presence and impact:

(1) Establish a Twitter account to promote dialogue among members of NANAS and our academic and non-academic colleagues;
(2) Implement an “Age Studies Article of the Year Award” to celebrate the dynamic work undertaken by NANAS members.

I am a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at York University, with research interests in aging, care and care work, gender, health, family relations, and the intersections of age and disability. I have a strong record of publication on these topics with 17 peer-reviewed articles in leading gerontology and sociology journals, including Ageing and Society, Canadian Journal on Aging, Men and Masculinities, and Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. My work has been recognized by awards and grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care. I teach in the areas of aging, care, and gender.

I have research and leadership experience with multi-disciplinary, collaborative aging initiatives. As Chair of the Gilbrea Centre for Studies in Aging Student Group, I worked to build a network of students engaged in research on later life. For example, I organized brown bag sessions where students shared ideas and gained feedback from peers and community members. As a team member on SSHRC-funded research projects on long-term care, I have gained an appreciation of working across the social sciences and humanities to better understand the diverse possibilities and challenges aging brings. Joining NANAS’ Governing Council is an exciting opportunity to  strengthen our vibrant age studies community.

Linda Hess (University of Frankfurt)

I have served as At-Large member and secretary to the Governing Council of NANAS since the beginning of this year (2018). I have greatly enjoyed working with the wonderful officers of the NANAS Governing Council and I would like to continue in this capacity for another term. I am enthusiastic about being involved in work that aims at making the field of aging studies more prominent and welcoming to scholars, writers, students of all ages and stages in their careers. Recently, I have worked with a task force on developing criteria for a NANAS emergent scholar award that is to be presented at the conference in Trent in 2019 for the first time.

I completed my Ph.D. on “Queer Aging in North American Fiction” at the University of Muenster (Germany) and the book will appear with Palgrave in early 2019. I am currently working as assistant professor of American Studies at the Goethe University, Frankfurt (Germany). I regularly teach classes on aging in US American and Canadian literature and culture, and I am dedicated to introducing aging as a significant topic in North American Studies to students. Further focus points of my research are Queer Studies, Gender Studies, and Ecocriticism.

I became a member and participated in the inaugural NANAS conference in 2014, and being part of NANAS has been an amazing experience for me from the beginning. Every time I get to interact with members of NANAS (and ENAS), I am thrilled all over again by the great support and encouragement members provide for each other. I immensely appreciate and admire the ways in which experienced researchers so generously interact with scholars and students new to the field. I would very much enjoy being able to contribute to the organization’s way forward as a member of the Governing Council. I feel that NANAS has a culture of cooperation and a willingness to uphold dialogues across disciplines that is rare even today, and I would like to continue being part of this endeavor.

I am currently also one of the co-chairs of the age and ageism caucus at the NWSA and I am particularly interested in working on solidifying and expanding the presence of aging studies at international conferences, as well as in further strengthening the existing networks, also between different organizations interested in age and aging studies. I am also interested in reaching out to students and new researchers in the field, in addition to continuing work on extending the online-presence of the organization to help us stay connected informed about current research done in our field between conferences as well.

Sandy Robinson (Trent University)

I am grateful and excited to be nominated to serve on the NANAS Governing Council. I am a first-year Masters student completing my degree in English literature. This year, I became a member of the Trent Centre for Aging and Society. At the Centre, I am currently working with my fellow graduate students to establish a group for student members. This academic year, I am also sitting as elected council member of my graduate students’ association, the elected student representative for my degree and the social media coordinator for my MA program.

As a Masters student, my thesis will explore the lives marginalized women, both disabled and aging, through the lens of the novel in the work of late eighteenth-century writers Francis Burney and Sarah Scott. In eighteenth-century studies, there is a need for critical research about disability and age. I hope my thesis will go some way in addressing this need. As a part of my degree, I am also completing an interdisciplinary specialization in aging studies. This specialization is an engaging opportunity to learn more about aging from a social sciences perspective. This autumn, I presented at my first aging and health conference. My paper “Memory is a Bruise Still Tender”: Trauma, Racism and a Failure to Care in David Chariandy’s Soucouyant” discussed the challenge of dementia care for disenfranchised Canadians. In my research I am fascinated by the intersections of aging and disability. As a young person with a physical disability, I have lived experience of vulnerability and marginalization, such states, I believe, overlap with some experiences of older individuals. However, I am eager to learn more about what it means to age, particularly with physical or cognitive challenges in the twenty-first-century.

During my undergraduate degree I had a rich history of volunteerism. This included coordinating a fair-trade festival at my university for two consecutive years and I served as student representative for my English department on the departmental committee, curriculum committee, and executive committees for all four years of my degree. As an undergraduate I was an honour’s list for every semester of my degree.

Serving as a student representative would be an exciting opportunity to serve the field of age studies and open the dialogue between established and emerging scholars.

Anita Wohlmann (University of Southern Denmark, Odense)

I am grateful and honored for being nominated to serve as an at-large member on the NANAS Governing Council. I’ve been an early member of both NANAS and ENAS and have admired the work of both steering committees. The ENAS and NANAS conferences over the past years have been exceptional experiences for me, both on the level of inspiring and exciting research and on the social dimension: wonderful, warm-hearted colleagues, generous and encouraging feedback, and inspiring personalities. I would love to see this spirit continue and contribute my share in furthering the growth of age studies.

A few words on my academic background: I am Assistant Professor of Literature and Narrative Medicine at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense, where I work in the research group “The Uses of Literature,” headed by Niels-Bohr Professor Rita Felski. I have been interested in the field of age studies since my PhD project, which I started in 2009, after I heard Roberta Maierhofer give a talk in a film studies seminar at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz on dementia, care, and aging. In my project (published as Aged Young Adults), I examined characters in their twenties and thirties and the way they understand their relation to age and aging. I wondered why so many characters in contemporary North-American American novels and movies refer to their age as a matter of concern, failure or decline when in fact cultural norms and ideals of aging suggest that they are in the prime of their lives. In another project with Maricel Oró-Piqueras, Serializing Age, we explore age and aging in relation to serial narration. The articles we collected in this anthology discuss how the serial nature of TV-formats (as for example in series, sitcoms, and soap operas) provide narrative frames that help us think about temporality, age and aging in different ways.

My current research interests have shifted to Medical Humanities and Narrative Medicine, which I see as fields that are in many ways related to age studies. My current research project on “Body and Metaphor: Narrative-Based Metaphor Analysis in Medical Humanities” (funded by the German Research Foundation for a duration of 3 years) explores how metaphors can be spaces of agency, creativity and resistance. Before coming to Denmark, I worked as a postdoc in the interdisciplinary graduate program “Life Sciences – Life Writing” at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, where I also graduated.

Since 2016, I am assisting the editors of Age, Culture, Humanities as a review editor. You can find more information on my publications here.

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