HL97: The Work of Death

Instructors: Lauren Brandt and Caitlin Galante DeAngelis Hopkins
Meeting time: Thursday, 1-4

Everybody dies. Death is universal and inevitable, but how we experience it over time and how people have understood in the past and in the present differs according to time, place, location, ethnicity, race, religious belief, and many other cultural, political and social factors. This course examines the history of death in the American context, through a wide range of historical and literary sources. It is arranged in rough chronological order, but our emphasis throughout will be tracing how death has been used to categorize and shape people’s collective and individual identities. Each unit will provide opportunities for you to analyze a range of developments in history and literature – such as slavery, environmental history, political organization, and social protest – and a variety of textual genres including short stories, poetry, philosophy, journalism, photography, and cultural objects.