THE MANY WAYS WE TALK ABOUT DEATH IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY: Interdisciplinary Studies in Portrayal and Classification

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An interdisciplinary work that examines the representation of death in traditional and “new” media, explore the meaning of assassination and suicide in a post 9/11 context, and grapple with the use of legal and medical tools that affect the quest for a “good death.” The contributors treat their interrelated topics from the perspective of their expertise in medicine, law, psychology, anthropology, sociology, political science, religion, philosophy, literature, media, and visual culture.


“In this volume, Souza and Staudt have selected themes that reflect the key foci of the conference. The essays presented here problematize death from a range of perspectives, including those of religion, psychology, biology, and the media. Those within the final section consider more closely the experience of dying in contemporary contexts. Without question, this collection will prove valuable to readers from a range of backgrounds, be they philosophers or ethicists, writers or journalists, healthcare workers or policymakers, or any others who are interested in expanding their knowledge of contemporary understandings of death.” – Prof. Lesley A. Sharp, Barnard College

“Notable variety marks this book of papers presented at the Columbia University Seminar on Death. The architectural scaffolding provided in Christina Staudt’s introductory chapter makes an important contribution for viewing thanatological scholarship in the 21st century. Her contrast of new developments in the field with Aries’” – Prof. David Balk, Brooklyn College

“The truly unique piece of this anthology is its American roots. With the exception of Stuart Youngner et al.’s books on the definition of death and organ transplantation, very few American anthologies on death and dying have been published. The contributors to this book most certainly examine situations from around the globe, so the essays are far from provincial. Yet, what this book demonstrates is that death studies scholarship exists in the United States and that it’s a subject area that many, diverse individuals work on.”– Prof. John Erik Troyer, University of Bath

Table of Contents

Foreword by Lesley A. Sharp, Ph.D
Introduction - Christina Staudt
The Pulse of Death Now: A Conference Project
The American Kaleidoscopic Death and Its Areas of Intensity
The New Mediated Death
Violent, Politicized Death
The ‘Good’ Death (Revisited)
Looking Ahead
Part I – The New Mediated Death
Witnessing Death on the Modern Stage - Angela Belli
Steven Spielberg’s Flesh Fair: Film, Fantasy, and Death Denie d - David Steritt
Capturing Death on Video: Sophie Calle’s Public Installation at the 2007 Venice Biennale - Marcelline Block
Ethic of Death and Photography: Korean Funerary Photo-Portraiture - Jeehey Kim
Death in Cyberspace: Bodies, Boundaries, and Postmodern Memorializing - Sayantani DasGupta and Marcia Hurst
Death in Cyberspace: Psychoanalysis and the Internet - Mikita Brottman
From Black Crepe to Blue Ink: Mourning Tattoos an the Practice of Embodied Bereavement - Lauren F. Winner
Part II – Violent, Politicized Death Assassination Discourse and Political Power: The Death of Alexander Litvinenko - Ronald F. White
From Mass Graves to Public Cemeteries: The Recent and Historic Treatment of Unidentified Bodies in Colombia’s Conflict - Ana María Gómez López
Death in the Psychology of Genocide and Terrorism - J. Harold Ellens
The Mind That Writes: Observing the Concept of “Revelation” in Religious Literature in Light of the Fear of Death - David Greene
Chapter Thirteen – Terrorism, Death, and Sexuality- Jerry S. Piven
Mass Violence and Adaptation: A New Frame of Reference - Michael K. Bartalos
Part III – The Good Death Revisited The Changing Cultures of Dying in Medical Institutions - John Fox
How We Let People Die - Miriam Piven Cotler
The Irregular Pulse of Death - Margaret Souza
The Empty Chair: A Psychodynamic Formulation of a Dialysis Unit Death - Maureen O’Reilly-Landry
Medical Futility Statutes: Can They Be Resuscitated? - Thaddeus Mason Pope
Dead But Animate - James M. Hitt
Facilitating ‘Grief Work’: The Behaviorist Turn in Hospice Care - John Eric Baugher
The Influence of Buddhism on Western Death Attitudes - Alan Pope
Language Matters! Support for Using Emotionally Neutral Language when Discussing End-of-Life Choices - Judith Schwartz
The Psychotherapeutic Relationship When Clients Approach Death - Herbert G. Gingold and Ruth Mutzner
The Behavioral Turn and the Refashioning of American Death - Philip Alcabes
Afterword - Margaret Souza

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