Stories, Art, & Aging


Jon Kay
Course Description

While much attention is given to the memory loss of older adults and its biological causes, later life can also be a time for remembering. Life review, a universal human process, helps older adults make sense of their lives, come to terms with their own mortality, and share their knowledge with others. However, an important part of remembering is also forgetting. Every act of remembrance is an exercise in forgetting. We purge unnecessary data and unpleasant elements from our stories of the past, distilling them to their important narrative components. This class explores the many ways that elders recall, organize, revise, and share their life stories. From elder poets and artists, to older storytellers and musicians, we study the interplay between memory, life review, and creative practice in order to learn to appreciate the dynamic systems of remembering and forgetting devised by older adults. A distinctive focus of this course is that it engages with local elders.