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All the Selves We Have Been

General Programming

dateNovember 19, 2013 timeTuesday, 6:15pm EST location Fayerweather Hall, Room 411, Columbia University
B&W photos of old woman and young girl

The Heyman Center presents a book release for Lynne Segal's newest title, Out of Time: The Pleasures and Perils of Ageing.

In Out of Time: The Pleasures and the Perils of Ageing, leading thinker Lynne Segal examines her life and surveys the work and lives of other writers and artists to explore the pleasures and perils of growing old. With great depth and humor, Segal proposes a much needed re-imagining of old age that does not fear the process of aging and challenges the taboos that constrain the lives of the aged.

Since the second wave of the women’s movement, feminists have re-examined the myths and stereotypes, the stigmas and truisms of every phase of the life cycle. Yet little has been said or done for older generations of women. What place they hold in the world?
We’re supposed to deny being old; it is seen as an insulting, or at least unwelcome, well padded with euphemisms. Aging is a process, a matter of degree rather than a fixed identity. "You are only as old as you feel," though routinely offered as a jolly form of reassurance, carries its own judgements and disavowal of the benefits and joys of old age.

Feminist writer and activist Lynne Segal, has lived through many phases of the women’s movement. In her autobiography Making Trouble (2007), she described herself as "a reluctantly aging woman," and mused about the need for "a feminist sexual politics of aging." Out of Time: The Pleasures and Perils of aging is her answer to these issues. Fears of aging, Segal argues, are fed to us from childhood in stories and fairy tales full of monstrous, quintessentially female, figures. In this book, she confronts the simplistic attributions of generational blame frequently named as causes of the economic crisis, the growing erotic invisibility of aging women as well as the expectations of gender and aging that inevitably constrain ambition and political engagement. Out of Time also examines the representation of aging in the work of other writers including Simone de Beauvoir, Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, Philip Roth, Diane Athill, Joyce Carol Oates, John Berger, Grace Paley, Jo Brand, Jacques Derrida and John Updike.

Segal brings to Out of Time a lifetime of personal, intellectual, and political experience engaging with the changing roles of men and women. Brilliant, moving and challenging, this book is an urgent and necessary corrective to our assumptions of aging.

In this talk, Michael Taussig will join Lynne Segal for a discussion exploring the tensions between younger and older generations, the link between age and selfhood, and the gendered aspects of aging.

For more information, visit Out of Time at Verso Books.

Free and open to the public. First-come, first-seated.

  • Lynne Segal Anniversary Professor of Psychology & Gender Studies Birkbeck, University of London
  • Michael Taussig Class of 1933 Professor of Anthropology Columbia University