Too old and ugly to be useful? Challenging negative representations of older people

This guest blog was contributed by Dr Ilona Haslewood, Programme Manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

As part of the latest British Academy Debates series on ageing on 26 March, five contributors, including myself, discussed representations of older people  in literature, arts, culture and the media, under the somewhat challenging title of ‘Too old and ugly to be useful?. Ultimately, it was a foregone conclusion from the start: none of us could disagree with the basic claim that current representations are still overwhelmingly negative, showing older age as a period of decline, something to be fearful of. So what’s there to learn, then? A lot, it seems, both from history and from the present.

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