ASTON UNIVERSITY, BIRMINGHAM MEDICAL HUMANITIES UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS AMHERST
SPANISH CINEMA: GENDER
AND AGEING STUDIES
FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
April 14-16, 2016
This project aims to organise the first biennial three-day international conference on Ageing, Well-being and Gender in Spanish Cinema. The conference will take place 14-16 April 2016 at Aston University (Birmingham, UK) and will be co-organised by Dr Medina (Aston University, UK) and Dr Zecchi (University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA). It will engage with concepts of gender, ageing, and well-being as cultural constructions and the impact they have on public and private notions of old age and well-being. The main objective of the conference is to provide a forum to discuss intersections of the cultural, social, political, economic and medical dimensions of gender and ageing as presented in Spanish cinema. From a medical humanities perspective, it will help to deconstruct and shed light on cinematic discursive practices around all of these aspects, as well as the power film exerts over public stigmatization and discrimination against older people and their well-being. Within the field of the medical humanities, the conference will promote research on ageing and the value of medical humanities research to society, and it will facilitate collaborations between researchers in the medical humanities and cultural partners.
Although active ageing and gender equality have been at the centre of the European Commission policies for the past few years, the social reality of Europe shows an ageing population which is constantly portrayed negatively in all areas of our society. The World Health Organization has devoted its efforts to reducing stigma and discrimination against older people and has called to foster intergenerational solidarity and understanding. The medical humanities is concerned with the ways in which the arts and humanities enlighten thinking and understanding in relation to illness, health and well-being; medical culture; the doctor/patient relationship, and the delivery of health care (Kirklin, 2004). Medical humanities also help to deconstruct and shed light on how discourses around these aspects are created and sustained. This conference will engage with concepts of gender, ageing and well-being in culture and society, and the power these constructions have over public and private notions of old age and well-being. The aim of the conference is to provide an opportunity to discuss intersections of the cultural, social, political, economic and medical dimensions of gender and ageing as presented in Spanish cinema. This conference will be the first biennial three-day international conference on Ageing, Wellbeing and Gender in Spanish Cinema.
The conference will take place 14-16 April 2016 at the University of Aston, and will be co-organised by Dr Medina (Aston University) and Dr Zecchi (University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA). It will be the first of a series of collaborative biennial conferences on Spanish cinema and medical humanities co-organised by both universities. Film studies have a substantial contribution to make to rethinking age in society. Although few films have featured late life, as Sally Chivers (2011) has shown, when old age is part of a film, it is just a very small part, which is characterised as a passive or frail moment in life. Frailty and decay are thus linked to care, which is either spatially located in the children's home or the (medical) nursing home. Films have the power to construct cultural meanings around being or becoming old, thus creating by repetition a larger and monolithic cultural meaning around old age: decay, decline, frailty, asexuality, passivity, etc. This ultimately plays a crucial role in contributing to the stigmatisation of old age and its medicalization. Maria Cabre (2015) wrote that the Spanish film industry funds movies devoted to presenting virile fights and hairy chests. Hence, the presentation of women in these films is almost accidental; it is a necessary but small counterpoint to the plot. Even though ageing is not normally the focus of blockbuster films, when old characters are part of them, Spanish cinema shows a clear preference towards older male characters in active roles. Additionally, when ageing women are part of the films, their deficits (in terms of health, sexuality, intellectual capacity and as social subject/agent) are highlighted, exacerbated and stereotyped. Although ageing women is an important part of the Spanish demographic landscape, this regrettably does not translate into their visibility in Spanish cinema.
Details of proposed activity intersections of the cultural, social, political, economic and medical dimensions of gender and ageing. Issues this conference will explore are:
* Gender discrimination (sexism) and age discrimination (ageism) in the Spanish film industry
* Demographic ageing changes in contemporary Spanish society as presented in Spanish film
* Shortage of roles for women/men over 50 in Spanish film
* Depiction of ageing women/men
* Portrayal of decline and vulnerability of the ageing body (body as a text)
* Portrayal of ageing and memory loss
* Depiction of the nursing home
* Medicalization of old age
* Portrayal of queer ageing
* Representation of physical and psychological violence in the third and fourth ages
One actress, one female director, one female scriptwriter, and one female editor will participate in the conference. The conference will feature the screening of 2 films relevant to the theme of the conference, followed by a debate with invited artists. The goal is to have about 30/40 academic speakers presenting their work (no parallel sessions). The screenings will be open to the general public and students. The extension of the abstracts must not exceed 300 words, and final presentation will not exceed 20 minutes. Submissions will be considered in an anonymous review process.