Aging :: The art of aging – New journal unites humanities and gerontology

With the release of its inaugural double issue this June, the Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts (JAHA) seeks to create a dialogue between the humanities, medical science, and the social sciences around issues of aging, according to journal editors Anne Wyatt-Brown and Dana Burr Bradley.

Printed four times a year by Routledge, JAHA is the official publication of the Humanities and Arts Committee of The Gerontological Society of America (GSA).

“Our vision is that this journal will create a forum for scholars and act as an incubator of fresh approaches and constructive dialog about the meanings, experiences and challenges of growing old,” says Bradley, who is a professor of gerontology at Western Kentucky University. “JAHA will support a large interdisciplinary cadre of researchers who work in the field of aging, but who perhaps would not all identify themselves as gerontologists.”

By fostering a dialogue between the humanities and arts and the bio-medical, psychological, behavioral, and social sciences, the editors intend for the journal to challenge stereotypes, further our understanding of the aging process, and provide creative approaches to the exploration of issues pertaining to aging. Subjects addressed in the journal will include language and communication; literary production, reception, and analysis; biography and memoirs; human beliefs and spiritual values; art, music, drama, and dance therapy with older adults; narrative medicine in interactions with older adults and their families; issues of death and dying; creativity and aging; and social construction of age.

“Humanities deal with the complicated feelings that individual people have about growing old,” says Wyatt-Brown, who is an emeritus associate professor of linguistics at the University of Florida. “It includes stories about aging that humanize the experiences of older folk and their families, friends, and caregivers. Sometimes these articles celebrate the achievements of elderly musicians, playwrights, poets, novelists, and movie makers. Poems, pictures, drama, and music add dimensions of human experience that research, no matter how impressive, simply cannot duplicate.”

Articles in the first issue cover such subjects as the presentation of old age in the cinema, King Lear’s struggle with aging, aging and desire in modern novels, the portrayal of aging in Native American stories, the Old Woman as new American hero, and the effect of cultural programs on the physical and mental health of older adults.

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