2017 Governing Council Elections

Candidate Statements

Brooke Clark. I am a first-year doctoral student in English Literature at Rice University and the Editorial Assistant of Age, Culture, Humanities: An Interdisciplinary Journal. I have worked with Dr. Cynthia Port and the journal since its inception during my undergraduate career at Coastal Carolina University. I continued to do so throughout my Master’s program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Through my experience with Age, Culture, Humanities, I regularly engage with age studies scholars and the field overall, as I talk with reviewers and authors, copyedit pieces, research sources in the discipline, and solicit submissions. While attending my various institutional homes and presenting at conferences, I continuously tell students, professors, and researchers about NANAS, the journal, and age studies. Throughout my academic career, I have held various leadership and governing positions in my departments and universities. Organizing events, fostering community, and representing my fellow graduate students, department, and institution comprise and develop my position as a scholar. Altogether, university service and my editorial experience have been and are significant parts of my academic work. I attended and presented at the first NANAS conference in 2015 and met many NANAS members, who were all brilliant and generous across disciplines and positions. I would be delighted to offer my insight, service, and support to the Governing Council of NANAS to facilitate the organization’s advancement, which will surely aid my growth as a scholar and community member as well. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Nicole Dalmer is a PhD Candidate in Library and Information Sciences in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at The University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario, Canada). Her BSc in psychological sciences at the University of Alberta introduced her to the intricacies of neurodegenerative disorders and initiated her interest in aging and older adults. Working as a research assistant at the Alberta Centre on Aging served to enhance her understanding of issues facing our aging population and highlighted the importance of engaging with and supporting family and friend caregivers of older adults. Her Masters in Library and Information Studies (MLIS) at the University of Alberta focused on the health information needs of family and friend caregivers of older adults living with dementia, in recognition of the many sources of information, both online and offline, caregivers may turn to throughout the caregiving trajectory. Nicole continues this line of research in her SSHRC-funded doctoral research. Her institutional ethnographic doctoral research examines the often-invisible information work done by family caregivers of older adults. She is particularly interested in examining the intersections of information work and caring work; exploring the information-related work needed to care for an aging family member and the degree to which this work is recognized or obscured in aging in place policy and discourse. Ultimately, she aims to draw attention to the work involved in seeking, sharing and understanding information needed to provide care, information that is often scattered and fragmented across organizations and services. Wearing her other research hat, she also studies and advocates for the development of more responsive public library services for aging populations. She developed and taught the first course in Canada on the intersection of public libraries and aging population and has collaborated with the local public library system to host a conference for those living with dementia to share their lived experiences. As a member on the NANAS Governing Council, Nicole looks forward to applying her ongoing experience as a 4-term student representative for the Canadian Association on Gerontology. She looks forward to using her role on the Council as a vehicle to foster collaborative efforts and to facilitate opportunities for dialogue and networking amongst an engaged community of North American gerontological researchers.

Marlene Goldman is a writer, filmmaker, and English professor at the
University of Toronto. Her most recent work in age studies explores the experience
of shame and stigma and a broad range of cultural and biomedical modes of
performing or simulating stigmatized minds and bodies. Her research interrogates
who sets the definitions of normalcy, the impact of biomedical labels on the people
who receive them, and the role of history in shaping stories about illness. Her
research also explores the evolving concept of ageism.

The author of four books and numerous scholarly articles, Dr. Goldman has
contributed chapters to humanistic studies of aging and Canadian culture and
presented at symposiums around the world. Keynote speeches on the overlap
between literature and dementia have brought her to Austria, Italy, and China,
while her recently-published book, Forgotten: Age-Related Dementia and
Alzheimer’s in Canada, continues her investigation of the theme.

Dr. Goldman’s artistic output provides her new avenues to examine the
subjects she studies in her academic life. Her latest project “Piano Lessons,” a
short film adapted from Alice Munro’s “In Sight of the Lake,” premiered at
Toronto’s Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival. As writer, director, and co-
producer, Dr. Goldman brings a person-centred perspective to the film. With its
emphasis on the tacit knowledge and capacity for relationships that persist in
people with age-related dementia, the film serves as accessible viewing as well as a
case study for clinicians, caregivers, and people with dementia. Continuing her
film work, Dr. Goldman is currently developing an adaptation of
Margaret Atwood’s short story Torching the Dusties. She hopes her
interdisciplinary approach to age studies serves to broaden awareness of the
experiential, narrative, and cultural dimensions associated with illnesses such as
dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and age-related macular degeneration.

Dr. Goldman has been affiliated with NANAS since its inception. She is
eager to work with the newly elected Governing Council to develop, broaden, and
diversify NANAS’s membership base; to plan future conferences; and, in
consultation with the membership, to chart the innovative and interdisciplinary
future of age studies.

Pamela Gravagne. My interest in becoming a member of the Governing Council of NANAS stems from a series of lightbulb moments that occurred during grad school as an older scholar while pondering how to structure my dissertation on the ways old age is portrayed in contemporary film and on the effects these portrayals have on attitudes about and actions towards the old. Consisting of a steadily growing realization of the relevance of feminist theories of inequality and exclusion to the study of age and aging, these moments led to a desire to understand the profound effects such exclusion had on my own life and on the lives of other older people.

This desire led not only to a book, The Becoming of Age, and to articles, conference presentations, and classes on the theoretical and practical effects of negative portrayals of old age on the old themselves, but to becoming co-chair of the Age and Ageism Caucus in The National Women’s Studies Association and a founding member of both ENAS and NANAS. I felt that by becoming a part of such organizations, and by writing and teaching about aging and ageism, I could more effectively work to transform both negative portrayals of the old and the discriminatory policies and practices that often result in the exclusion of the old from much of political, cultural, and academic life. It also led to becoming a Certified TimeSlips Storytelling Facilitator, a position in which my involvement with older people with psychiatric disorders in the Arts-In-Medicine Program and with people with dementia in nursing homes has given me an ever-expanding appreciation of the extraordinary talents and abilities that remain in those whom our society so often casually discards.

Yet, as Audre Lorde argued when she said that ageism is another distortion of our relationship with one another in which human difference is used as an excuse for the kind of oppression where the advantages of one group depend on the disadvantages of another rather than as a springboard for creative change, I find that much work remains to be done.  As Neal King writes in Age Matters, to ignore age as a form of state-sponsored discrimination as economically and psychologically consequential as any is to misunderstand the nature of ageist beliefs and practices.Since ageism, King continues, is perpetuated by the marginalization and silencing of the voices of the old, only the inclusion of old scholars in the academy will spread a critical view of ageism that can change both the university and the reality of older people’s lives.

If elected, I will work to include both the perspectives of the old in our research, teaching, and writing, and the voices and the presence of the old themselves in our conferences, discussions, and academic work. By doing so, I hope to show that we are we are still capable of surprising ourselves and others with what we may desire and become at 70, 80, or 90—if only given the opportunity to do so.

Julia Henderson. My name is Julia Henderson and I am a Ph.D. Candidate in Theatre Studies in the Department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. I have a background as both a professional actor and an occupational therapist. My dissertation, which is near completion, investigates how theatre and performance practices contribute to cultural constructions of aging and old age. I investigate select Western plays produced professionally in Canada in recent years to discover ways in which they challenge negative, decline-focused narratives of aging and old age, as well as how they denaturalize other age stereotypes and troublesome narrative tropes. My research on dramaturgies of aging offers new insights to Aging Studies scholars for considering performances of age. I am a SSHRC and Killam scholar, and I have three times been recognized with honorable mention for the Robert G. Lawrence emerging scholar prize by the Canadian Association for Theatre Research (CATR), most recently in June 2017, all for scholarship at the intersection of Aging Studies and Theatre Studies. My work has been published in Theatre Journal, Theatre Research in Canada, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, and is upcoming in Age, Culture, Humanities: An Interdisciplinary Journal. In addition to my own research, I have volunteered in several capacities to help promote and expand both the fields of Theatre Studies and Aging Studies. I am a member of UBC’s Interdisciplinary Aging Collaboration Group and its Medical and Health Humanities Working Group. I have been integrally involved in developing the West Coast Tri-University Graduate Colloquium for Theatre and Performance Research, an event I co-chaired in 2016. I served on the 2016-2017 CATR Emerging Scholars Task Force. My proposal, with Benjamin Gillespie, to chair a working group titled “Age and Performance: Expanding Intersectionality” was recently awarded a three-year dedicated slot at the CATR national conference and will help expand Age Studies in Theatre and Performance as a subfield in Canada. Recently, I coordinated and chaired the symposium Aging: Acts of Memory and Forgetting hosted by UBC’s Department of Theatre and Film and co-sponsored by Concordia’s ACT Project. This interdisciplinary event was attended by members of 6 post-secondary institutions and 8 UBC departments, and featured visiting scholar Dr. Josephine Dolan. After participating in AgingGraz in April 2017, and meeting the exciting international community of Aging Studies scholars there, I am keen to serve as a member-at-large on the NANAS governing council and contribute my energy to developing the field in North America. I am particularly interested in working on ways to attract and involve emerging scholars, representing and promoting Aging Studies within theatre and performance disciplines and among arts-based health care researchers, planning conferences and other events to advance the field, and exploring ways to expand the Aging Studies online community.

Linda Hess. I more or less first “stumbled” upon aging studies in a seminar during the last year of my Master’s program. I was immediately fascinated by the richness and relevance of the
field. I then pursued my interest in aging studies further through my Ph.D. project on
“Queer Aging in North American Fiction” which I completed 07/2016 at the University
of Muenster (Germany).

Since October 2017, I work as an assistant professor of American Studies at the Goethe
University, Frankfurt (Germany), and am re-working my thesis for publication. 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 and Gender Studies.

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. Living
in Germany, and being relatively new to the field of aging studies at the time, I heard of
NANAS (and ENAS) while I was at an American Studies conference in Graz, from
colleagues who encouraged me to submit a paper for the conference. This is only one of
many examples of the great support and encouragement NANAS members provide for
each other. I immensely appreciate and admire the way 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 am
looking forward to 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 thinking through possibilities of creating a database with age and aging
related research by NANAS/ENAS members, that would help us stay informed about
current research done in our field.

Erin Lamb. I stumbled across age studies while in college (thanks in great part to the brilliant Teresa Mangum). When I started my graduate degree in English at Duke University, I knew that by the time I finished my degree, with the aging of the baby boomers, age studies would be the hot, new field, called for in many academic job listings in English. Overlooking the naivety about there being academic jobs in English, my vision of age studies as the leading wave of the cultural turn was frustratingly inaccurate. I am part of NANAS because I want that vision to become reality, and I see NANAS as one of the most effective ways to make that happen.

It has been my honor to co-chair NANAS this past year along with Leni Marshall, who introduced me to the community of age studies scholars when I was a graduate student. It was, and is, the kind of community where well-established scholars and undergrads are equally welcome and treated with equal kindness and respect. That ethos of age studies as I was introduced to it is one of the key values I would like to see NANAS continue to engender.

My work is primarily grounded in the health humanities, and connecting age studies with the health humanities is one the central goals of my scholarship.  I am currently the Herbert L. and Pauline Wentz Andrews Professor of Biomedical Humanities and Director of the Center for Literature and Medicine at Hiram College in Ohio. My research and teaching interests include aging, death and dying, disability, bioethics, health care and social justice, and new biotechnologies, with a particular interest in the social and ethical consequences of anti-aging consumer culture and medicine.  I am a founding member of the North American Network in Aging Studies, and would bring to my continued service on the Governing Council a valuable sense of organizational history.  My additional leadership experience includes previously chairing the executive committee of the Modern Language Association’s Forum on Age Studies and the National Women’s Studies Association’s Aging and Ageism Caucus, and currently serving on the executive committee of the MLA’s new Forum on Medical Humanities and Health Studies.

Valerie Lipscomb. I’m an Associate Professor of English at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. My scholarship centers on age and drama; age studies has been my focus since the light bulb went off over my head during graduate school. I’m delighted that Palgrave Macmillan editors continue to welcome age-studies titles—they published my 2016 monograph, Performing Age in Modern Drama, as well as a volume I co-edited in 2010 with Leni Marshall, entitled Staging Age: The Performance of Age in Theatre, Dance, and Film. I’ve worked to bring critical attention to age studies by publishing in drama-oriented journals such as Modern Drama and Comparative Drama well as in age-studies publications such as the Journal of Aging Studies, the International Journal of Ageing and Later Life, and Age, Culture, Humanities.  I am currently chair of the Modern Language Association Age Studies Forum as well as Vice Chair of NANAS.

I would be honored to continue working to strengthen NANAS, as I believe the organization is at a crucial growth point.  During the past two years, I have been fortunate to collaborate with hands-on officers who have been attending to the details as well as the big picture of building this group. I’ve helped revamp the constitution and bylaws to facilitate growth in membership and leadership, collaborated on web content and membership solicitation materials, and administered our Facebook page. Most recently, I took on a task that I did not know would be so formidable: enabling NANAS to collect dues.  My university now is the home for NANAS funds, representing a long-term commitment to the organization not only on my part but also from my administration.  I was proud to be there raising a glass when NANAS was conceived, and I am proud of how far the organization has come.  There is so much potential to realize as we continue to develop a supportive community of scholars devoted to examining what it means to grow older. I envision that our next steps would be focused not only on ensuring that the 2019 conference is successful and collaboration with ENAS is strong, but also pursuing grant opportunities, further partnerships with centers for aging studies, and NANAS panels at appropriate affiliated organizations.  It’s exciting to be polling our new, official membership to determine which efforts will best serve their interests and to begin to have a small budget from membership and sponsorship fees.  It has been a privilege to serve, and I hope to continue contributing to the long-term success of NANAS.

Kim SawchukI am interested in a position on the Council  of the North American Network of Age Studies because of my commitment to fostering interdisciplinary research on age and ageing. There is a critical need for an organization such as  NANAS. Within the context of North America, there is a predominance of research, and funding for research, on ageing and  health. Ageing, is so much more. As a process of experiencing change through time, ageing is both singular and tied to broader meta forces including economies, political structures, history and culture. Age studies opens up a needed discussion of age and ageing as it is represented within societies, reminding us that our ageings are diverse and that there are differential relations of power, if ageing is approached from a position of radical intersectionality.  Age studies invites a reflection on the diversity of these  processes, and the means  to critically inquire into the normative inscription if age-related assumptions, within different disciplines. Nowhere is this more apparent than in my own discipline of media studies, where too often there is a de facto focus on youth. Age studies prods and provokes researchers to consider how we construct age within our own research agendas, to imagine ageing otherwise, and to provide insight into different pathways for change. As a network of age studies scholars, NANAS is a vibrant network of researchers whose work, individually and collectively,  provides a necessary intellectual challenge to dominant discourses on ageing, and potential support for researchers at all levels of their careers to advance new questions, methods and theories on age and ageing. I am keen to play a role in its future.

Currently, I am the  Director and Principle Investigator of the seven year project, Ageing Communication Technologies: experiencing a digital world in later life (actproject.ca) funded through the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Many members of NANAS have played a key role in shaping the agenda of  ACT. ACT is also very involved with NANAS’ European counterpart, the European Network of Age Studies. ACT is comprised of three research axes, Agency in Ageing, Cultural Mediations, and Telecommunication Technologies. Agency in Ageing encompasses research done, primarily, from  purview of community arts and an action research point of view. Cultural Mediations researchers primarily address ageing from the purview of cultural studies. Telecommunication Technologies work within social science traditions.

My own research within age studies is interdisciplinary, multi-methodological and intersects with all three of the areas that constitute the research agenda of ACT. I have a longstanding relationship to ageing as a topic. I obtained a PhD from the Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought from York University, where my dissertation was a critical examination in marketing and consumer culture. This research lead me to examine, in the 1990s, how older adults were being reconceptualized as a potential seniors’ market. I  conducted a number of studies on how Canadian adults were negotiating the transition from  landline telephones to cell phones, opening up a myriad of questions on the role of communication technologies within the practices of everyday life. Under the auspices of ACT, I have continued this research on ageing and cell phone culture. Supplementing this, I have worked on numerous collaborative projects with community groups to engage in digital story telling projects that explore a multiplicity of issues, including what it means to age as an activist.

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