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H20-MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions

'Vetulae'. Depicting women's ageing bodies in 15th century Florence

Tildelt: kr 2,2 mill.





2020 - 2020


This project aims to provide a holistic and comparative view of ideas and materializations regarding women’s ageing bodies in 15th c. Florence at the intersection of art, art theory, and medicine. Over the last few decades, studies on the biological, economic, social, and cultural aspects of ageing have multiplied, as a result of the ongoing debates on demographic ageing and its impact in our societies. Although recent shifts in scholarship have led to significant advancement in this area, biomedical accounts are often privileged over the social and cultural, and the latter tend to focus mostly on the contemporary. My project VETULAE supplies this central question in modern science with a historical depth and seeks to enrich the discussion with new perspectives. The project thus has the potential to play a part in influencing the way we think about women’s ageing by anchoring present and future experiences in historic precedents.  More specifically, VETULAE aims to: 1) Collect a corpus of pictorial and sculptural works that represent different facets of women's ageing and old age, executed in Florence and its surroundings during the 15th century; 2) Compare cultural constructions of women's ageing to that of men’s using texts and images from different social and iconographic contexts; 3) Reflect on the presumed gender bias in regards to ageing among physicians, artists, writers, and cultural promoters; 4) Rewrite the gendered ageing body into the history of pre-modern Europe, addressing the underestimated yet crucial role of the intersection between natural history and the visual arts in shaping cultural constructions of gender and age; 5) Inscribe pre-modern ideas about women’s ageing in the longue durée and evaluate their impact in today's culture. This research will be developed and disseminated through an academic monograph, a museum exhibition and a digital project designed to work in perfect synergy and reach a wider audience within and beyond academia.


H20-MSCA-Marie Sklodowska-Curie actions