Tamara Mann

  • Fellowship year:2012-2013
  • University: Columbia University
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: United States
  • Dissertation Title: Honor Thy Father And Mother: Old Age in a New America 1945-1965
  •  More specifically, my dissertation investigates how "old age" came to be defined as a social problem worthy of federal attention in the 1950s and how that federal attention in turn advanced a highly medical definition of care. At once policy history and intellectual history, Honor Thy Father and Mother describes how the conversation around proper care for the elderly shifted from one centered on pastoral solutions to one centered on biomedical ones. This project offers a needed history of the ethical assumptions and debates that continue to frame, and limit, public discussion on proper care for the elderly.

    This project seeks to enrich public and private discourse on eldercare by reviving the relevant debates that took place between the close of World War II and the passage of Medicare. Fundamental questions such as what does proper care look like, what really are the hardships of old age, and who should be responsible for the nation's elders dominated policy conversations in the 1950s and have since been largely ignored. Honor Thy Father and Mother features these discussions to question how the contemporary eldercare system developed and to offer alternative conceptions of the problems and solutions to one of the major demographic upheavals of the 20th and 21st century.