Uncovering New Connections Between Aging and Disability Studies through Literature
In between reading, having coffee with friends, and hanging out with her cat Wilson, master of arts student Sandy Robinson is uncovering interesting connections in her research. As a graduate student with deep interests in both literature and disability studies, Ms. Robinson discovered surprising ties to aging studies in the first year of her master’s, and that these connections were not often explored. In the following Q&A, Ms. Robinson describes how she wishes to change that through her research on Canadian literature, specializing in Aging Studies.
As an alum, what brought you back to Trent for your graduate degree?
I really enjoyed my time as an undergrad, so when I returned to the Peterborough area, attending Trent for my master’s degree made sense. I love the academic rigor of Trent, mixed with the caring atmosphere. Trent has wonderful opportunities for student growth with the benefits of a small, supportive university.
What’s the connection between your research in Public Texts and aging studies?
As part of the Public Texts graduate program, we are encouraged to explore texts which we are passionate about, as well as how texts reach and affect audiences. One field which I am very passionate about is disability studies. In the first semester of my M.A., I took a course called “Aging, Disability & Care” with Professor Sally Chivers in Trent’s English department. In that course, I realized that aging studies was just as rich as disability studies and very relevant in our contemporary Canadian landscape. It was around this time that I applied for the graduate specialization in Aging Studies to complement my degree.
How are you showing these connections within your research?
My research focuses on the portrayal of older-disabled female protagonists of two Canadian novels: Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo and Soucouyant: A Novel of Forgetting by David Chariandy. To examine the novels, I’m using the frames of disability studies and aging studies. As I mentioned they are both rich and varied fields but, what I have discovered is that they often work without consulting the other. In my major research project, I hope to show how fruitful the two fields of aging and disability can be when in conversation.
How can students (undergraduate and graduate alike) get involved in aging studies?
There are many paths into aging studies whether you are in the humanities, social sciences or sciences. As we are an aging society, a knowledge of aging studies is likely to be an asset in future endeavours. For my fellow Trent students, I highly recommend checking out the Trent Centre for Aging and Society (TCAS). TCAS offers lots of student-friendly programming including free lectures, a journal reading club, and early-career networking events. These events are very welcoming to all and often have lots of snacks! Also, there are many Trent faculty involved with aging studies. If you have a passion for a certain part of aging studies, there is likely a professor with a similar interest. TCAS is a great place to start those student-faculty conversations.
Learn more about the Trent Centre for Aging & Society and the specialization in Aging Studies.
Posted on April 17, 2020