ACT at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference

Join us later this week, as several members of ACT present at the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Conference as part of panels organized by NWSA’s Caucus on Ageing and Ageism. The conference is being held from November 10th to 13th at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. The full conference program is available here.


PANEL I: Unsettling the Linear Logic of Age: Narrating Complexity in Later Life (Friday, November 11, 11am – 12:15pm)

Captives of Care: Margaret Atwood’s “Torching the Dusties”
Ulla Kriebernegg, University of Graz

This paper analyses Margaret Atwood’s short story “Torching the Dusties” as a representation of the fourth age as exile. In Atwood’s story, in which a violent anti-elderly mob sets out to burn down nursing homes, the care home as a space of exclusion is a spatial metaphor for the experience associated with old age. A metaphorical reading of such narratives can take us from the concrete to the abstract level, and allow us to think about life on a radical and existential level, leading us to ask the question whether there is an “ideal place” to live and grow old.


PANEL II: Re-Imagining Aging: Creativity in Later Life (Saturday, November 12, 1:45 – 3:00 pm)

Resistance of the Gaze: Women’s Self-Im/Aging
Magdalena Olszanowski, Concordia University

Our ostensibly ubiquitous image-based technology culture is an affront to the aging population. Its image/inary of older women depends on lack of access to technologies for these women and their hyper-invisibility (Meagher 2014). What tactics are women using to resist this ageist culture? For this presentation, I will foreground the multiplicity and incoherence of the gaze by asking how aging women challenge conventional patterns of looking and subsequently demonstrate pleasure in being looked at via image-based technologies. I will use two examples: 1) the feminist resistance of aging self-imaging artists 2) feminist activist imaging work with elders in Montreal.


From PAR to CARR: Media-making and the Art of Activist Ageing
Kim Sawchuk, Concordia University

This paper explores media-making with communities of older adults and institutions (public libraries, social housing groups, and activist organizations) in Montreal to re-imagine what it means to age as an activist in a digitally networked society. Drawing on feminist methods for community engagement through the arts (Cohen-Cruz 2006), PAR/participatory action research (Blair and Minkler 2009) I build on Virginia Eubanks’ CARR or Collaborative Action and Reflection Research (Eubanks 2011) and add “creative” as an essential element to her methodological reflections.


PANEL III: Borders of Belonging in Later Life: Old Age in Indigenous, Minority, and Resistant Communities (Sunday, November 13, 8:00 – 9:15 am)

Ageing Across Species Boundaries
Constance Lafontaine, Concordia University & David Madden, Concordia University 

Our paper seeks to emphasize the multiplicity and the connectedness of ageing bodies and life courses by conducting interviews with older women in Montreal, Quebec who share their lives with cats. We seek to explore and vex the notion of “cat ladies,” a term that connotes an older single woman who shares her life with a multiplicity of cats, but a term that also entails the dismissal of a later life lived outside of heteronormative expectations. We explore and record dismissed personal narratives of interspecies love and co-aging that exist through time and across species boundaries.