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English PGR Seminar Series: Julia Twigg – Thursday 26 October
26th October 2017 @ 5:15 pm - 7:00 pmFree
Clothing and the Embodiment of Age Identities: The Cultural Turn in Age Studies
Clothes lie on the interface between the body and its social presentation. They are one of the ways whereby bodies are made social, given identity and meaning, so that dress needs to be understood in Entwistle’s (2000) words as ‘situated body practice’. Getting up and dressed is a process of preparing the body for the social world, and as such both an intimate experience of the body and a public presentation of it. When we get dressed, however, we do so within the bounds of a culture and its particular norms. Dress is closely linked to social identity. We are familiar with the analysis of this in relation to gender, class, ethnicity, but less so in relation to age. The seminar, which draws on an ESRC study, will explore the role of dress in the cultural formation of age. Certain forms and styles of dress have historically been deemed appropriate – or more significantly inappropriate – for people as they age; and older women, in particular, have been subject to pressures to tone down, to adopt self effacing, covered up styles. More recently, however, there have been signs of change; and the session will explore the extent and significance of these. In doing so it will also reflect on the wider cultural turn within age studies.
Prof. Julia Twigg‘s research focuses on embodiment and age. Over the last decade, she has been engaged in a series of research projects exploring the role of dress in the constitution of age. The first of these, funded by ESRC, looked at women and dress, and was published as Fashion and Age: Dress, the Body and Later Life (Bloomsbury). The second, undertaken with Dr Christina Buse and funded by ESRC, explored the role of dress in supporting the embodied personhood of people with dementia. The third, funded by Leverhulme Trust, extends the analysis to older men. All three studies are concerned with the ways in which dress and age intersect, and the role of the concrete materiality of clothing in the expression of social identities.
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