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Resemblance, Diversity, and Making Age Studies Matter 

Resemblance, Diversity, and Making Age Studies Matter
Resemblance, Diversity, and Making Age Studies Matter

Andrea Charise

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date: 14 May 2021

The resurgence of grass-roots activism around race (#BlackLivesMatter) and class (anti-austerity, Occupy) has highlighted how matters of age collide with other significant determinants of health and illness, such as gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and class. Clearly, what it means to grow old is deeply contingent upon far-reaching disciplinary and contextual factors that shape students’ understanding of health well before they step into the classroom. Part one of this chapter unpacks key problems currently facing age studies pedagogy by asking, How can age studies be taught to better reflect these crucial diversities, encourage the growth of this field, and establish the value of age studies for students from a range of academic backgrounds and with assorted, often uncertain, career paths? Part two expands this proposition through elaborating a case study of teaching age studies as part of the health humanities curriculum at the University of Toronto Scarborough. The author outlines ways in which striking but conventional age studies material (e.g., Shakespeare’s King Lear) might be repurposed to respond meaningfully both to the locality of a multicultural teaching environment and to students who may possess very different frames of reference. The purpose of the chapter is to (1) articulate the need for greater diversity in age studies (lessons reflected in health humanities more generally) and (2) provide concrete ways to embolden such diversification within the classroom by engaging students—and charging educators—in the expansion of what humanistic studies of aging might entail.

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