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Center for Literature and Medicine Hosts Inaugural Conference on Aging Studies

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The Center for Literature and Medicine hosted educators from across the country earlier this summer at the inaugural conference of the North American Network of Aging Studies (NANAS).

This newly formed organization seeks to bring together the growing, interdisciplinary field of age studies. It is modeled off the European Network of Aging Studies (ENAS), which was formed a few years ago. Several of the founding members of ENAS, as well as several key scholars in the humanities, social sciences and medical humanities who look at issues of age, were involved in the conference either as attendees or via Skype sessions.

“The group, as a whole, operates under the assumption that age is an identity category — like sex and gender, race and ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, etc. — that needs to be broadly considered, as ageism is one of the few remaining ‘-isms’ that is, for the most part, completely socially acceptable,” said Erin Lamb, co-director of the Center for Literature and Medicine and assistant professor of biomedical humanities.

The purpose of this summer’s conference, which was held July 25-28, was to get NANAS up and running. Hiram’s Center for Literature and Medicine has a long tradition of bringing together emerging and established scholars and practitioners for intensive summer seminars and workshops that cross disciplinary and professional boundaries.  This summer’s working retreat was by invitation only and provided an intimate gathering focused on rich conversation and action-oriented planning. Attendees worked both as a collective group and in small groups to plan concrete ways to advance the field and work of age studies.

Hiram faculty, including Lamb, Michael Blackie, co-director of the Center for Literature and Medicine, Robin Shura, assistant professor of sociology and Carol Donley, emeritus professor, will continue to be involved in the group and pass their work onto student experiences at Hiram College, particularly during the 2014-15 academic year, when “Aging” will be the annual ethics theme.

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