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Warwick Seminar for Interdisciplinary French Studies: Shirley Jordan (Newcastle), 'Le Temps de vieillir: Martine Franck’s forgotten photobook'

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Location: Teams - see webpage for Teams link

Belgian-born documentary and portrait photographer Martine Franck (1938-2012) is internationally known for her aesthetic rigour and talent as a documentary and portrait photographer. Yet her vast collection of photographs of older persons, where these skills are harnessed to specific critical purpose, has been almost totally neglected. This paper is part of a larger project which uncovers the hidden history of Franck as a photographer of ageing and re-situates her as an unrecognised landmark for cultural gerontology as well as a precursor to the current upsurge of interest in care. The paper will examine the historical context and contemporary relevance of Franck’s work through an in-depth analysis of her first project on ageing, a photobook entitled Le Temps de vieillir (1980). It will also explore the application of care theory to the production and reception of photographic material to show how Franck’s attempt to challenge normative perceptions of ageing becomes newly available under this theoretical lens.

Shirley Jordan is Professor of French Studies at Newcastle University. Her research interests are wide, including 20th - and 21st - century women’s writing in French, art and art criticism, photography, ethnography, and experimental self-narrative across media. Her recent research has focused on ageing, ageism and care as explored in literary narratives, visual representations, and theory. She currently holds a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (2022-23) focusing on the representations of ageing and care for older people made over several decades by Magnum photographer Martine Franck. She is Co-Lead of the NUCoRE (Newcastle University Centre of Research Excellence) on Ageing and Inequalities and Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing at London University’s School of Advanced Studies.


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