Fear of Ageing: Old Age in Horror Fiction and Film


July, 17th 2021

In her 2017 book Forgotten, Marlene Goldman notes that the media often adopts a Gothic register and use apocalyptic language to describe the rise in dementia cases across the west in recent decades. The disease is figured as a “silent killer” that threatens to erase our identities, turning us and our loved ones into a faceless zombie mob. But horror is a genre that is often deployed to depict old people more generally, not just those debilitated by disease. One has only to think of the witches that populate cultural texts of all sorts, from Hamlet and “Snow White” to Game of Thrones. In such instances, horror is used to evoke not just a fear of death but a fear of aging, old age being equated with bodily, mental, and social decline.

On the other hand, the idea of the unnatural extension of the lifespan has also generated its own brand of horror. Immortality may be something humans, at least since the time of Gilgamesh, have always sought to attain, but its pursuit has invariably entailed some sort of retribution. For vampires, eternal life is a curse that forces them feed on the blood of the young to maintain their decrepit existence (a trope that is eerily evocative of the unfortunate stereotype of the present-day pensioner). Movies like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (which highlights the risks and implications of plastic surgery) also express the reservations many have about the powers of technology to unnaturally prolong youth.

In this symposium we will investigate what exactly we are afraid of when we posit old age as a source of horror. We will attempt to identify and examine the different kinds of fear associated with aging and assess if and how these fears can be allayed. We thus invite scholars across the humanities to submit their reflections on films and/or literary works that regard aging and old age through the lens of horror. Our ultimate aim is to harness the thrills and pleasures of horror to think about how quality of life can be improved in old age and how older people can be better integrated in our ever fearful and suspicious societies.





Session 06 with Raquel Branquinho, Ana Vale e Fabiano Bracht


In our last session of the cycle “PLAN D: what to do after the PhD?”, we will be talking with Raquel Branquinho, Ana Vale, and Fabiano Bracht – the three researchers of REMA (Research Management & Science Communication Hub), the unit for the development of management and communication activities in Science and Technology of the Faculty of Arts of Porto.

Coming from different areas of knowledge (Microbiology, Archaeology, and History of Sciences), these three researchers already have extensive experience in supporting the preparation of competitive applications, in addition to their own individual experience in their research careers in Portugal. With them, we will talk about errors to avoid in applications, how to make good curriculum management after the PhD, the skills needed to be a science manager and communicator, among other issues that allow us to outline, together, strategies for the future.

Orgs. João Paulo Guimarães and Marinela Freitas

The broadcast will be through ILC’s Facebook page and access is free.

More information: Cycle of conversations Plan D


ANNOUNCEMENT – Call for Scholarships


ANNOUNCEMENT – Call for Scholarships

Under the FCT Research Grant Regulations (RBI) and the Research Grant Holder Statute (EBI), the Institute for Comparative Literature Margarida Losa of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto (ILCML – FLUP) has open, between July 7th and September 10th, 2021, a call for the award of 2 (two) Research Grants for students already enrolled in, or who meet the conditions required for enrolment in the PhD course in Literary, Cultural and Inter-Artistic Studies:

1 PhD scholarship in the research areas of the Intersexualities group

1 PhD scholarship in the research areas of the Inter/Transculturalities group

The PhD research plan, required in the application for a PhD fellowship, must fall within one of these two research areas of the Unit I&D Institute for Comparative Literature Margarida Losa.

Cadernos de Literatura Comparada #44



Literature and journalism intersect in many different ways. In their production and circulation, they share aspects of a set of technologies they have in common, ranging from verbal language itself to the material resources of handwritten, printed, and digital communication. Over the centuries, many literary authors have been professional journalists and learned from this craft – and vice versa. Periodicals offer regular information about the literary activity, even when it is not their main object, and there are several that specialize in following recent or older literary writing through critical reviews, interviews, and so on. At the same time, literary journalism understood as a specific genre of long non-fictional narrative, or journalism written with a literary slant, has gained a prominent place and has constituted a canon of recognized authors, even winning a Nobel Prize.

You can read the publication here.

CLC #44