Age and Performance: Expanding Intersectionality

Call for Working Group Participants

“Age and Performance: Expanding Intersectionality” (Vancouver 2019)

Organizers: Benjamin Gillespie (CUNY) and Julia Henderson (UBC)

As aging populations expand, increasing attention is paid to the fact that systemic cultural inequities restrict and repress older people. However, normative cultural expectations about how to ‘act one’s age’ limit not just the elderly, but all ages across the life course. In comparison to other aspects of identity such as gender and race, age often remains ignored, “entrenched in implicit systems of discrimination without adequate movements of resistance to oppose them” (Gullette 15). While the growing field of critical age studies has begun to address age as a point of intersectionality across many disciplines, “theatre has lagged behind, focusing more on theatre projects with older people than on theorizing age” (Lipscomb 193).

We seek participants for year 2 of this 3-year-long working group exploring cultural aging as implicated in theatre and performance practices across Canada and beyond. We are especially interested in challenging traditional concepts of time, aesthetics, embodiment, difference, and age performativity, and in establishing a Canadian network of researchers to identify key issues and methodologies that might impact academic discourse and pedagogy surrounding age. In Vancouver, our working group will meet for one 2-hour session. For CATR 2019, participants will propose 8-10 page papers which they will circulate to thematic subgroups ahead of the conference for discussion. At the conference, each subgroup will report upon their findings to the larger group. The 3-year end goal of the working group will be a journal special issue or edited collection.

If you have not previously participated in this working group, please submit a short statement of interest(250 words) by January 15, 2018 to Benjamin Gillespie ( and Julia Henderson (

Please note that all participants who are accepted into the group must become members of CATR before the conference in June. You can join CATR at the following website:

Works Cited:

Gullette, Margaret Morganroth. Aged by Culture. University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Lipscomb, Valerie Barnes. “Age in M. Butterfly: Unquestioned Performance.” Aging and the Life Course, special issue of Modern Drama, vol. 59, no. 22016, pp. 193-212. Project MUSE, doi: 10.3138/md/59.2.4. Accessed 25 Aug. 2016.

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