This one-day free online workshop will consider the question: how can we use adulthood as a category of historical analysis?
Expectations for adults have altered across time, just as other age-categories such as childhood, adolescence and old age have been shaped by their cultural and social context. However, historians have rarely thought about adulthood critically, tending to treat it as a neutral state, despite the fact that it is the yardstick by which ideas of what it means to be ‘childish’, ‘elderly’ or ‘adolescent’ are measured. Even modern Western concepts such as the ‘midlife crisis’ presume the existence of a healthy kind of adulthood that exists before you hit middle age.
Age, like gender, is a relational category: in the same way as an analysis of femininity is incomplete without understanding what is meant by masculinity, we cannot really understand how concepts of childhood, adolescence or old age have changed without thinking about how adulthood has changed as well, or how it is given different meanings in different societies at different times. Ideas of independent, self-sufficient adulthood also inform the ways in which groups such as women, people of colour, LGBT+ people and disabled people are oppressed.
Please see Eventbrite for the full programme and to sign up: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/adulthood-as-a-category-of-historical-analysis-tickets-166480711289