The Silver Screen: Aging through the Lens of Popular Cinema

Monday, October 1, 2018 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Event Location: 
Coralville Center for the Performing Arts
1301 5th St.
Coralville, IA 52241

Presented by TRAIL of Johnson County and sponsored by Caring Hands & More of Iowa City, this special event will consider the ways in which aging is treated in popular culture, especially cinema. It will allow us to consider the impact that these images have upon how we view our own aging process, and that of our families and friends. 


Professors Teresa Mangum and Corey Creekmur of the University of Iowa will discuss popular stereotypes (both negative and positive) of aging in popular cinema. How are older characters used to generate comedy, as well as sympathy? What is the cultural significance of conventional figures like the “dirty old man” or the “kindly grandmother”? And how does Hollywood differentiate between the aging of men and women, or among different ethnic groups, or different classes? While some recent films may offer more nuanced views of aging and late life, which clichés remain stubbornly in place and whose interests do they serve?


The presentation will also consider the curious historical fact that the invention of cinema has allowed us to witness the aging of some specific performers across their long careers. How have we understood our ability to view the aging faces and bodies of actors like Elizabeth Taylor or Kirk Douglas across many decades? What is the impact of never seeing stars like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe in their old age?


A Q & A discussion will invite audience members to share their own memories and experiences of images of aging in popular culture, and their history with the aging of popular actors on screen. A brief reception with refreshments will follow.



Teresa Mangum is a professor in the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies and Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa. Her research interests range from rebellious women in Victorian novels to the ways art and literature represent life stages, especially late life. She is also a member of the National Humanities Alliance board of directors, which takes her to Washington, DC, each March to explain to our legislators why we still need art, history, literature, philosophy, and theatre in our lives.


Corey Creekmur is an associate professor of English, Cinematic Arts, and Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. His teaching and research focus on international popular cinema, cross-cultural film genres, and popular literature, especially crime fiction and comics. He serves on several editorial advisory boards and is the General Editor of the Comics Culture book series for Rutgers University Press. 


TRAIL of Johnson County is a membership-based nonprofit organization that helps older adults live more safely and comfortably in their own homes. By providing members access to volunteer services, prescreened service providers, and a full calendar of social and educational events, TRAIL fosters an engaged and supportive community of individuals dedicated to living life more fully at every age. For more information, visit


Caring Hands & More provides individuals and families with a variety of services, including home health care, parent helper, pet care, professional cleaning, and lawn care. Its staff of home care professionals work together to design holistic, appropriate, coordinated plans of care and duty services for individuals of all ages, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. For more information, visit


Free and open to the public.