The Aging Challenge: A Multidisciplinary Colloquium

Given at HILR

Study Group Leaders: Hy Kempler and Rhoada Wald


The theme, “The Aging Challenge,” will be explored from various disciplinary frameworks as we examine the current literature and research on aging and their impact on our intellectual and personal lives. In the context of affirming life and exploring positive images of getting older, we will review life cycle theory, issues of mortality, and life transitions. Study group leaders and other members of HILR will facilitate the various sessions from the perspectives of developmental psychology, education, literature, philosophy and sociology.


Session 1 Introductions

Meaning Making and Aging

Session 2 Physical and Emotional Changes in Aging

Session 3 The Life Cycle and the Challenge of the Later Years

Session 4 Poetic Struggles with Aging

Session 5 Mortality and Meaning

Session 6 Western Buddhism and Aging

Session 7 Philosophizing on Aging

Session 8 Literature and Aging

Session 9 Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Aging

Session 10 Death and Dying

Session 11 Summary and Evaluation

General Bibliography:

Generations. “Reasons to Grow Old: Meaning in Later Life, Ronald Manheimer, ed.

Articles for the first session were selected from this journal. Quarterly Journal of the American Society on Aging; Volume XXXVVV. Number 4, winter 1999-2000.

Gilleard, Christopher and Paul Higgs. Cultures of Ageing: Self, Citizen, and the Body.

Harlow England, Prentice Hall. 2000. Various social scientists analyze their perspectives on ageing in relation to postmodernism, influences of culture, and issues related to the “3rd” age, the older adult.

Manheimer, Ph.D. Ronald J., The Second Middle Age: Looking Differently At Life Beyond 50. Detroit, Michigan, Visible Ink Press, 1995. An overview of all issues and topics related to the older adult and retirement.

__________A Map to the End of Time. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1999. This second book of Manheimer’s is philosophical in tone as he relates his experiences from the last two decades of working with the older adult.

Terkel, Studs. Coming of Age: The Story of Our Century by Those Who’ve Lived It. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1995. Verbatim interviews focusing on aging, identity, work, social justice, etc. Two excerpts are included in the handouts, one for the first session, “Helen Nearing, 90,” Pg. 446-451. For the session on the life cycle, “Stetson Kennedy, 77,” Pg. 391-400.

Aging and Memory:

Naveh-Benjamin, Moshe et al. (eds). Perspectives on Human Memory and Cognitive

Aging. New York. Psychology Press, 2001.

Graf, P. & Ohta, N. (eds). Life-Span Development of Human Memory. Cambridge. MIT Press, 2002

McEwen, B. The End of Stress as We Know It. Washington, D.C. Joseph Henry Press., 2002 pp119-127; 131-134

Schacter, D. Searching for Memory. New York. Basic Books. New York, 1996. pp 283-309

The Life Cycle and Adult Development:

Erikson, Erik H. Childhood and Society. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., Inc. 1975

A classic study of the social significance of childhood and the implications for adulthood.

Read by both professions and lay people.

Erikson, Erik H. ed., Adulthood. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. Inc. 1978. . This book is a series of essays by several who view adulthood from various disciplines. The book begins with Erikson’s well-known essay,”Reflections on Dr. Borg’s Life, Cycle,” a brilliant analysis of Ingmar Bergman’s film, Wild Strawberries.

Levinson, Daniel. The Seasons of a Man’s Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1978. One of the ground-breaking books on adult development. One of the first studies to demonstrate how human being change and develop according to an age-linked schedule. This research focused on men.

__________The Seasons of a Woman’s Life. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1966. In this text, Dr. Levinson addresses the life cycle issues of women within two life themes: the homemaker sample and the career women sample.

Terkel, Studs. Coming of Age. New York, St. Martin’s Griffin New Press. 1966, Stud Terkel’s famous interview process with people over 70. Two excerpts are included in the handouts, one for the first session, “Helen Nearing, 90,” Pg. 446-451. For the session on the life cycle, “Stetson Kennedy, 77,” Pg. 391-400.

Poetry and Literature:

Kohn, Martin, Carol Donley and Delese Wear. Literature and Aging, An Anthology, ed. by Martin Kohn, Carol Donley, and Delese Wear. Ohio, Kent State University Press, 1992. Readings from the text include: “Leaving The Yellow House” by Saul Bellow,

“How to be Old” by May Swenson, and “Old” by Anne Sexton.

Olsen Tillie, Tell Me A Riddle. New York, Dell Publishing Co., 1961.

Philosophy of Aging:

Powell, Douglas. The 9 Myths of Aging. Maine: Thorndike Press. 1998

Rosenberg Larry with David Guy, Living in the Light of Death: On the Art

Of Being Truly Alive. Boston: Shambhala Press, 2000. Chapter 1, “The First Messenger: Aging is Unavoidable.” Pg. 21-47. Optional reading: Introduction, Pg. 1-19.

Optional: Film: Wild Strawberries, Ingmar Bergman