CFP. Histories of Healthy Ageing

University of Groningen

21–23 June 2017

As Western populations grow increasingly older, ‘healthy ageing’ is presented as one of today’s greatest medical and societal challenges. However, contrary to what many policy makers want us to believe, the aspiration to live long, healthy and happy lives is not a problem specific to our times. On the contrary successful ageing has a long history.

The conference Histories of Healthy Ageing is based on the assumption that ‘healthy ageing’ has informed the medical agenda since Antiquity. With ‘healthy ageing’ we refer to ways of thinking about and treating the body not only from a medical perspective, but also taking into account questions of what constitutes a happy and fulfilled life. In particular these latter issues were central to medicine before 1800 and relate to healthy living as much as to questions connected specifically to old age. Thus whether we speak of classic ways of training the athlete’s body, medieval religious rites, the pre-modern obsession with regimen (rules for living a healthy life), or the upper-class fancy to visit spas, at the root of it all was a wish for wellbeing, health and longevity.

The conference focuses especially (but not exclusively) on the pre-modern period. Submissions for 20-minute papers should include a 250-word abstract and a short CV. Subject to funding small travel grants might be available for junior researchers.

 

Possible topics include:

  • Histories of diet and dietetics, ‘sports’, spas and bathing, medication and life-elixirs, etc.
  • The materiality of healthy living and ageing (pills, powders and elixirs, bath houses, exercise apparatus, scales and the like)
  • Aesthetics and the history of cosmetic surgery
  • Prognosis and historical efforts to chart life expectancy
  • Relations between patients and doctors
  • Ars Moriendi and resilience in the face of illness and death
  • Healthy living and ageing outside academic medicine (quacks, alchemy, homeopathy)
  • Narratives of ‘healthy ageing’
  • The philosophical question of what constitutes a long and happy life
  • Life cycles
  • The understanding and application of the six ‘non-naturals’
  • Healthy ageing and the arts

 

Keynote lectures:

At the conference 5 keynote lectures will centre on the non-naturals, the areas defined by Hippocratic writers as the basis of health management and disease prevention.

  • Food and Drink by Elizabeth Williams (Oklahoma State)
  • Exercise and Rest by Onno van Nijf (Groningen)
  • Sleep and Wakefulness by William Maclehose (UC London)
  • Excretion and Retention by Michael Stolberg (Würzburg)
  • Perturbations of the Mind and Emotions by Irena Metzler (Swansea)

 

In addition to these specialised lectures there will be a public lecture by Robert Zwijnenberg (Leiden University) on Pre-modern Healthy Ageing and Modern Bio-medical Art.

 

Exhibition

The conference will be accompanied by an exhibition in the Groningen University Museum and the University Medical Centre Groningen (UMCG).
It opens June 2017.

 

Conference Organisers: Rina Knoeff, Ruben Verwaal, Catrien Santing, James Kennaway, Rolf ter Sluis.

Submissions and queries should be sent to: historiesofhealthyageing@gmail.com

Call closes: 1 December 2016

Download the Call for Papers here.

 

The conference is part of the project “Vital Matters” and is sponsored by NWO (the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research).

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