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Blue Nights: The Experience of Frailty in Modern Life-Writing, Literature & Thought

Tuesday, 18 October 2022, 1 – 2pm

Blue Nights: The Experience of Frailty in Modern Life-Writing, Literature & Thought

A seminar by Prof Elizabeth Barry (Warwick) as part of the Medical and Health Humanities Seminar Series.

This seminar examines the concept and lived experience of frailty understood in relation to factors such as risk and change. Informed by the work on frailty of sociologist Susan Pickard and gerontologist Amande Grenier, and on the phenomenology of illness by Havi Carel, it will consider the depictions of the condition of frailty in the life-writing and fiction of prominent literary figures such as Marcel Proust, Colette, Joan Didion, and Candia McWilliam. Both Colette and Didion write lyrically but acutely about the ‘blue time’ of the fourth age of life, and the talk will think about the changed—and changing—relation to time, space, the natural world and other people in this fourth age as depicted in these literary works. In reflecting on these representations, the talk will attend to the older subject as active, self-reflexive agent, but also explore what frailty reveals about the constitutive place of vulnerability and interdependency in human existence.

Elizabeth Barry is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Warwick in the Department of English. She works in the fields of modern literary studies, medical humanities and – predominantly – literary age studies, and has published on representations of ageing in the work of Samuel Beckett, Marcel Proust, Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood, among others. She edited the Boydell collection Literature and Ageing with Margery Vibe Skagen in 2020 and is writing a monograph on ageing and the experience of time in modern literature and thought, to appear with Bloomsbury in 2023.

This is a hybrid event, however in-person attendance is limited. Register here.

Room: Galbraith Seminar Room
Event Category: Lectures and Seminars, Public
Type of Event: One-time event
Audience: Researchers, Postgrad, Faculty & Staff, Public
Contact Name: Prof Desmond O'Neill

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