On Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 10:00am – 4:30pm at UBC’s Dorothy Somerset Studio, UBC Theatre Studies PhD candidate, Julia Henderson, arranged a full day symposium featuring visiting Cinema Scholar, Dr. Josephine Dolan. This event, sponsored by UBC’s Department of Theatre and Film and ACT, used specific examples from film and theatre to explore how performances of memory and forgetting influence cultural conceptions of age, aging and old age.
Three symposium talks are featured in the linked video:
- Dr. Josephine Dolan presents “The Truthful Performance of the Past: The Politics of Memory in The Iron Lady”
- Julia Henderson presents “Dramaturgy of Assistance and Utopian Performativity in The Chop Theatre’s Sonic Elder”
- Dr. Colleen Reid & Chad Hershler present “Building The Imagination Network: Raising the Curtain on the Lived Experience of Dementia”
(These talks were recorded by UBC Arts ISIT)
The dynamic between memory and forgetting has strong implications for understandings of identity and personhood, particularly as we age. Indeed, our culture has come to consider memory loss to be an inevitable part of aging. More extreme age-related memory loss, often referred to as dementia, has become a cultural terror, negatively impacting the personal, social and economic conditions of those living with this experience. As baby boomers age and the percentage of our population living past midlife rapidly expands, the impact of our attitudes toward aging and memory increases. Influential age critic Margaret Morganroth Gullette insists that “we are aged more by culture than by chromosomes” (Aged by Culture 101). If this is the case, then understanding and challenging cultural constructions of memory and forgetting as they relate to aging and old age can help reconfigure our cultural imaginary in ways that reduce the stigma of memory loss, and start to dismantle ageism.