Syllabus for Sociology of Dying and Death

Sociology 332-01, Fall 2005

Ruffner 116, MWF 1:00 – 1:50 pm

 

Greetings:

 

Welcome to Dying and Death.  (Sorry, that did not sound right.)  Thank you for taking this course.  I look forward to a pleasant and productive semester.

 

Instructor:

 

Kenneth B. Perkins, Professor of Sociology (at Longwood since 1984)

Office:  in Ruffner 222

Phone:  434-395-2243, perkinskb@longwood.edu

Office Hours: MW 2:00—3:30; TR 10:00-11:00 and by appointment. 

Teaching Schedule: MWF  9:00-9:50, 11-11:501-1:50; TR 12:30---1:45. 

 

Please note that I may not be at Longwood for the class meetings on November 16 and 18, 2005.  I will be participating in the annual meeting of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action.  I will most likely either leave work for you to do on Blackboard.  However, I might as one or more of you to lead the class and to continue any discussion we might be having.

 

 

 

 

 

Special Acknowledgement:

 

Dr. Michael Kearl, of Trinity College, one of the leading researchers and teachers in the field of the sociology of dying and death helped me considerably with preparation for this offering of Sociology 332.  I have borrowed, with his permission, several ideas from his syllabus.  His wonderful website will be very useful to us:

 

www.trinity.edu/~mkearl/death.html

 

 

Course Description and Objectives:

 

Sociology 332.  Sociology of Dying and Death.  The course explores social processes attendant to dying and death, including those that define the role processes of dying and the status of being dead.  The effects of disruption in dyads, families, and larger social organizations will be studied.  The thesis that emotions are socially and culturally mediated will be examined.  Other topics include cross-cultural causes of death, demography of death, care systems which attend dying, the concept and treatment of pain, funeral and body dispositions, and medical and legal ethics.  Prerequisite:  SOCL 101 or SOCL 102 or permission of instructor.  3 credits.

 

The course has several objectives:

  • To demonstrate the importance of sociology to understanding dying and death;
  • To examine major causes of death in the United States;
  • To examine the core sociological processes associated with dying, death, and bereavement, including the organizations attendant to dying and death;
  • To understand the basic medical and organizational aspects of organ donation and transplantation;
  • To examine the contemporary American funeral;
  • To address the concept of public tragedy

 

Required Materials:

 

Kastenbaum, Robert J.  Death, Society, and Human Experience. Eight Edition.  Boston:  Pearson and Allyn and Bacon, 2004.

 

Lattanzi-Licht, Marcia, and Kenneth J. Doka, editors. Living with Grief: coping with Public Tragedy.  Washington, D.C.: Hospice Foundation of America.  2003.

 

Key Longwood Library Sources:

 

Omega: Journal of Death and Dying.

Death Studies.

Handbook of Death and Dying (on 24 hour reserve)

 

 

 

 

Note About the Structure and Flow of the Course:

 

We will cover the textbook during the first two-thirds of the course and focus on the public tragedy concept (the paperback book) the last third of our time.  Our textbook is one of the most respected and readable. 

 

I am going to use class time for group projects.  There will be about 8 days on which we have group project presentations.  More about this below.

 

If for some reason any student finds our trip to the funeral home and sniffing embalming chemicals overly objectionable, they will not be required to participate.  Perhaps talking to me in advance about any fears or concerns would be a good idea.

 

 

College and Instructor Policies in Force:

 

If it comes to my attention that you are exhibiting a blatant disregard for class attendance, I reserve the right to apply the Longwood University Attendance Policy in full measure.  One other policy in force in this course, as you expect it to be, is the Longwood University Honor Code.  While “pledging” your work is not mandatory, I would encourage you to do so.  It is assumed that any and all work undertaken and produced in this class (whether explicitly pledged or not) as well as your behavior are subject to the Honor Code.

 

Late work will be penalized. 

 

Activities and Evaluation:

 

Let me describe what this course asks you to do, besides read and talk about what you are reading:

There will be a

  • Reflection Assignment (15%),
  • Mid-Term Exam(25%),
  • Group Project Presentation and Report (20%),
  • Book Review (15%), and a
  • Final Exam (25%). 

 

Just take a deep breath and exhale on to a mirror or piece of glass…if you see that your friend looks funny, check to see if their pupils change size.  If no moisture or no pupil movement, you need to withdraw and find another elective. 

 

Let me take time to give you a bit of information about the above items (with the exception of the exams). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection Project (Due Friday, September 9, 2005)

 

I would like for us to begin our time together with a bit of work from you about your experiences with dying and death.  Mostly likely you are not terminally ill nor has an audience defined you as dying.  So, I want you to think about four subgroups of possible deaths with which you have experience:

 

1.      Persons in your family;

2.      Persons in your non-family primary groups (past and or present),

3.      Public figures or people you did not know personally but whose death or dying affected you, and a special category,

4.      Pets (not pet rocks)

 

Start with your family and write down a brief narrative about each of these individuals that:

 

  • Describes your relationship with them,
  • Their cause of death,
  • What kind of funeral they had,
  • Any impact the death seems to have on others
  • And any particularly memorable reactions you had or still have.
  • As for pets, say whatever you want to about their dying and deaths. 

 

By brief, I mean a paragraph or so per person.  It is OK to get a bit carried away if you find this happening.  If you find that you have over 10 people to write about, perhaps we can work to narrow this down some so that the work is not overly burdensome.  Try to keep your responses under 6 double spaced pages…but in this assignment, I do not care about length.  If you have be fortunate (or perhaps unfortunate) enough not to have been affected by any death or dying, you will not have much to say.

 

The reason for putting you through this is that after reading these, I will have a better understanding of you.  I will keep what you say in confidence, unless you give me permission to share.

 

 

Group Research Project:

 

Over the years of this course, students in small groups have produced remarkable work that made the class very interesting and even fun.  I have found that a random construction of groups tends to work best so as to eliminate the awkwardness of the worry about who will be in whose group.   Each group will have a due date (see below) for their presentation.  In addition to the actual presentation, there needs to a brief project document submitted to me by November 18, 2005. This should be 5-page written summary (including references to all resources used).  (Dr. Kearl suggested that I have groups turn in website pages too, but I am not sure we want to do this.)

 

The time allotted for the presentations is 20 minutes maximum. Creativity in the format of the presentations is encouraged and could take advantage of our electronic classroom.  In the past, presentations have included videotaped Ken Burns' Civil War-style documentaries with video/slide clips and narration; formal debates; play acting; a television talk show; and summaries of a more formal type of research project (like those covered in the dreaded but required methods course) that would include graphic summaries of findings. 

 

Each group will have to establish its own division of labor.  Plan ahead.  Take into account such activities as typing, editing for consistency, possible graph or video production, etc.  If research involves any use of people as subjects (i.e., use of questionnaires, interviewing of laity), it will have to be cleared by Longwood’s human subjects review committee.  Do not let this bureaucratic necessity deter you from using questionnaires or interviews. I will help you easily take care of the human subjects issue.

 

Group One presents in six weeks on October 7, 2005.  So, we will need to get to the business of finding about 8 good topics.  Here are a few suggestions to get us thinking.

                                                           

                                    

           

                                    

 

                       

 

·        What is it about famous and dead musicians’ graves that make people do weird things?  I recently spoke with the sister of the deceased bass player for the Allman Brothers, Raymond Berry Oakley.  I was at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Ga.  She has been in a battle with the City of Macon, Ga., over the upkeep or lack thereof of Mr. Oakley’s grave (which is beside that of Duane Allman).  Smoking pot, urinating, and chipping off of parts of the grave really make Ms. Oakley mad.  One person actually committed suicide at the gravesite, after purchasing a plot nearby.  This is some serious s--t, man.

 

 

·        The inevitable social impacts of the forthcoming influenza pandemic: Lessons from 1918-1919

·        How well do the inequalities of life correlate with the inequalities of death.  Out of the 1,308 passengers on board the Titanic in 1912, 416 survived. Taken together, 60 percent of the first class survived, 40 percent of the second, and but only percent of the third. The crew fared badly as well, with only 24 percent surviving.  What would these survival rates be in 2005?

·        The Impact of Death in the Old West on the American Death Ethos (Feb. 10) There are not many cases in history where advanced cultures encountered true frontiers.  Could this be one explanation for why the U.S. consistently leads the developed world in its homicide rates?

·        Would life be worth living if people did not have to die? Should the death of death be a cultural goal? A goodie for you philosophically-inclined types.  What lessons have we learned through the ages?

·        Lessons about human good and evil following the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster: Case study in how death brings out the best and worst of the human primate.

·        A comparative analysis of how corporate America memorializes the workers it kills.  Many have died in the mining, fishing, timber, munitions and in building dams and such.  How do some industries acknowledge such sacrifices of their workers?

·        The Triangle Waist Company fire of 1911.  What were the short- and long-term consequences of this workplace tragedy?  Are there any more historically recent parallels to this incident?

·        The Bhopal disaster.  Do Americans underestimate the potency of this death symbol in developing countries?

·        Changes in the American funeral industry in anticipation of  Baby Boomers’ increasing interest in “customized final passages.” Funeral industry stocks have traditionally earned the highest returns.  New mausoleums are appearing in cemeteries throughout the country.  Namsco Corporation of Spokane, Wash., creates for funerals short videos of "scenes from the deceased's life, taken from photographs, superimposed over peaceful landscapes."  And from Salt Lake City comes Summum, a company that offers mummification.

·        Why is it that most bodies are embalmed?  Is it just an expensive add-on by the funeral business to make money, or is there something more going on?  Does it suggest anything about how we see death?

·         Ways the dead can control the living. Here’s one for you pre-law types.  Estate lawyers report growing desire of clientele to control posthumously the life plans of the living, undoubtedly motivating Time magazine to run “Ruling from The Grave: Through incentive trusts, you can lead wayward young heirs to fruitful lives” (Kadlec, 2002). There are the “family incentive” trusts, reflecting parents’ worries about their children not inheriting their own work ethic.  Undesirable in-law?  Include in your will stipulations that no inheritance unless the despised spouse of one’s offspring be divorced.  What are the legal limits of such meddling of the dead?

·        Pogroms of the Twentieth Century. What are the common factors contributing to ethnic wars ("cleansings"), genocide and other variants of mass killings?  Cases include the Armenians in 1923, Russian peasants in the 1930s, the Jewish Holocaust, Cambodia under Pol Pot, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and now in the Sudan.

·        Americans’ attitudes toward abortion in 1975 vs. 2005.  Are there differences and, if so, why?  What is the future of Roe v. Wade?  What is the future of abortion?

·        Compensation for Victims of Terrorism. Families of victims of the 4-19-1995 Oklahoma City bombings averaged received roughly $260,000; those of the 9-11-2001 World Trade Center averaged $2,000,000.  Even the dates, 419 vs. 911, are tremendously unequal in the American psyche.  The Alfred P. Murrah building does not compare with the twin towers of the World Trade Center; there was an 18-fold difference in casualty rates. Why the difference in reimbursements to victims’ families and what would happen (i.e., nature of memorializations, payments, etc.) if 911 was dwarfed 18-fold by another terrorist attack (e.g., instead of roughly 3000 deaths one that kills over one-half million)?

·        How is death presented in popular music?  “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (George Jones), “Earl” (Dixie Chicks), and many others.  Are there differences between rock and country?

·        Morbid Obesity. This is the clinical term.  Sounds deadly to me.  How does our society see really obese people?  Do we consider them as suicidal in some slow way?  At the funeral home at which I “intern”, we just had a 530 pound body.  A giant. Is there some great prejudice growing toward the morbidly obese?

·        Medical science should do all that it can to extend human life to 150 or more years, even if that means cloning humans or harvesting stem cells from aborted fetuses—pro and con?

·         Should physicians inform the terminally ill of their condition? (And how might this vary cross-culturally?)

·        Lessons learned from Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act—should the Justice Department be worried? Two years ago last November, instead of focusing on terrorists, Attorney General Ashcroft  blocked Oregon’s assisted-suicide law and authorized federal agents to punish physicians who prescribe federally controlled drugs to help the terminally ill die.  What are the moral and ethical implications of physician-assisted suicides or euthanasia? Will it lead us down some slippery moral slope?  What coalitions for and against are emerging?

·         Are Americans more or less fearful of death than they were in 1905?   You may wish to consider the arguments of Ernest Becker and Erich Fromm.  Sally Cline (in Lifting the Taboo: Women, Death and Dying, p. 66) observes how, in contrast to Becker, “Fromm proposes that fear of death far from being the ultimate reality is an expression of alienation from reality, a sign of an inauthentic lifestyle.”  Pat Kane in “Last Enemy” argues how the problem of death nowadays derives from its challenges to modernity’s obsession with control—mastery of nature, populations, and of ourselves.

·        Near-death experiences and their impacts on those who experience them.

·        Roadside memorials. Many think that they are on the increase.  Where did such memorializations begin and how have they spread across different cultural groups?  What do they mean to the general public?

·        Can people be considered as dead even when still alive?  This brings to mind the concept of social death.  Are there examples of this?  Is this a good concept?

 

            Book Review (due November 11, 2005)

 

For your book review you need to select any book related to social thanatology that strikes your fancy.  Your review (8-page maximum), should be organized around the following lines (approximate page-length indicated): (Please use an explicit heading structure.)

·         theme of book (1-2 pp). Precisely what is this book about?  What is its main purpose, idea or hypothesis?  What questions does it purport to answer?  Central theory and methodology used? (if an empirical study, what is the research design and the population studied?)

·        summary of contents (3 pp.) Briefly summarize the contents and the logic of the chapters or sections

·        critical analysis (2-3 pp): List at least three central facts the author(s) uses to support the main thesis; discuss the validity and importance of these facts.  What information or ideas in this book were also covered in this course's readings or lectures?  Indicate if and in what ways this book substantiates, contradicts, or amplifies these ideas.  Discuss any examples of bias or faulty reasoning you found in this book. 

·         your final evaluation: What contribution does this book make to understanding the sociology or anthropology of dying and death?  What major lessons did you take away from this work?  How interesting, organized, clear, etc. did you find this work?

 

Here are some potential candidates for your book review:  * indicates a classic work.  Our library has some of theses, but many will need to be ordered interlibrary loan or purchased.  I am working on building up our library sources. (Here I am grateful to Dr. Kearl for sharing his bibliography:)

 

            Cultural Dimensions of Death Theme

 

Ellen Badone, THE APPOINTED HOUR: DEATH, WORLDVIEW, AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN BRITTANY

Maurice Bloch and Jonathan Parry, DEATH AND THE REGENERATION OF LIFE

Patrick Brantlinger, DARK VANISHINGS: DISCOURSE ON THE EXTINCTION OF PRIMITIVE RACES 1800-1930

Kathy Charmaz, G. Howarth and A. Kellehear (eds.), THE UNKNOWN COUNTRY: DEATH IN AUSTRALIA, BRITAIN AND THE USA

James S. Curl, THE VICTORIAN CELEBRATION OF DEATH

Loring Danforth, THE DEATH RITUALS OF RURAL GREECE

*Emile Durkheim, THE ELEMENTARY FORMS OF THE RELIGIOUS LIFE

* Mircea Eliade, COSMOS AND HISTORY: THE MYTH OF THE ETERNAL RETURN

Ronald Finucane, APPEARANCES OF THE DEAD: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF GHOSTS

* Sergei Kan, SYMBOLIC IMMORTALITY: THE TLINGIT POTLACH OF THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY

Michael Parker Pearson, THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF DEATH AND BURIAL

Antonius C.G.M. Robben, DEATH, MOURNING, AND BURIAL: A CROSS-CULTURAL READER

Lisa Roqak, DEATH WARMED OVER: FUNERAL FOOD, RITUALS & CUSTOMS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Jack Santino, HALLOWEEN AND OTHER FESTIVALS OF LIFE AND DEATH

 

 

Case Studies of Death Across Cultures and Time

           

Philippe Ariès, THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH

Mike Brogden, GERONTICIDE: KILLING THE ELDERLY

* Jacques Choron, DEATH AND WESTERN THOUGHT

Jared Diamond, GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL: THE FATES OF HUMAN SOCIETIES

James Frazer, THE FEAR OF THE DEAD IN PRIMITIVE RELIGION

Barney Glasser and Anslem Strauss’ Time for Dying

Glasser and Strauss’ Awareness of Dying

* Robert Hertz, DEATH AND THE RIGHT HAND

Pat and Patricia Jalland, DEATH IN THE VICTORIAN FAMILY

* Robert Kastenbaum, ON OUR WAY: THE FINAL PASSAGE THROUGH LIFE AND DEATH

Gary Laderman, THE SACRED REMAINS: AMERICAN ATTITUDES TOWARD DEATH, 1799-1883

*Peter Metcalf, A BORNEO JOURNEY INTO DEATH: BERAWAN ESCHATOLOGY FROM ITS RITUALS

John Morley, DEATH, HEAVEN, AND THE VICTORIANS        

David Poirier & Nicholas Bellantoni (eds.), ARCHAEOLOGY AND DEATH

Ruth Richardson, DEATH, DISSECTION AND THE DESTITUTE

Peggy Sanday, DIVINE HUNGER: CANNIBALISM AS A CULTURAL SYSTEM

David Sudnow, PASSING ON:  THE SOCIAL ORGANIZATION OF DYING

* David Stannard, THE PURITAN WAY OF DEATH

Sarah Tarlow,  BEREAVEMENT AND COMMEMORATION: AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF MORTALITY

 

The Cemetery          

           

Penny Colman, CORPSES, COFFINS AND CRYPTS: A HISTORY OF BURIAL

James S. Curl, A CELEBRATION OF DEATH: AN INTRODUCTION TO SOME OF THE BUILDINGS, MONUMENTS, AND SETTINGS OF FUNERARY ARCHITECTURE IN THE WESTERN EUROPEAN TRADITION

Fred Goodman, THE SECRET CITY: WOODLAWN CEMETERY AND THE BURIED HISTORY OF NEW YORK 

Terry Jordan, TEXAS GRAVEYARDS: A CULTURAL LEGACY

Gary Laderman, THE SACRED REMAINS: AMERICANS' ATTITUDES TOWARD DEATH, 1799-1883

Michel Ragon, THE SPACE OF DEATH

David Sloan, THE LAST GREAT NECESSITY: CEMETERIES IN NORTH AMERICAN HISTORY

* W. Lloyd Warner, THE LIVING AND THE DEAD

 

Death's Impacts Upon Social Systems

 

John Barry, THE GREAT INFLUENZA: THE EPIC STORY OF THE DEADLIEST PLAGUE IN HISTORY

Albert Camus, THE PLAGUE

Gil Cuadros CITY OF GOD (SF: City Lights Press, 1994)

Alfred W. Crosby, THE BIOLOGICAL EXPANSION OF EUROPE, 900-1900

Rbt. Kastenbaum, Ruth Aisenberg, James Agee A DEATH IN THE FAMILY

Rbt. Kastenbaum, DEATH, SOCIETY AND HUMAN EXPERIENCE

B. Logue, LAST RIGHTS: DEATH CONTROL & THE ELDERLY IN AMERICA

* William McNeill, PLAGUES AND PEOPLES

           

 

Funerary Strategies

 

Robert Habenstein, W.M. Lamers FUNERAL CUSTOMS THE WORLD OVER

Remi Clignet, DEATH, DEEDS, AND DESCENDANTS: INHERITANCE IN MODERN AMERICA

Phyllis Theroux, THE BOOK OF EULOGIES

 

Death's Punctuations of Life

 

Marilyn Webb, THE GOOD DEATH: THE NEW AMERICAN SEARCH TO RESHAPE THE END OF LIFE

 

Homicide and Suicide

 

Tim Cahill, BURIED DREAMS: INSIDE THE MIND OF A SERIAL KILLER

Martin Daly and Margo Wilson, HOMICIDE

Brian Masters, KILLING FOR COMPANY: THE STORY OF A MAN ADDICTED TO MURDER

M. Pabst Battin, ETHICAL ISSUES IN SUICIDE

* Emile Durkheim, SUICIDE

Norman Faberow, SUICIDE IN DIFFERENT CULTURES

Herbert Hendrin, SUICIDE IN AMERICA

Kay Redfield Jamison, NIGHT FALLS FAST: UNDERSTANDING SUICIDE

Tracy Kidder, OLD FRIENDS [life and death in a nursing home]

David Lester, SUICIDE FROM A SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

Nancy Osgood, SUICIDE IN THE ELDERLY

Betty Rollin, LAST WISH

Edwin Shneidman, ESSAYS IN SELF‑DESTRUCTION, SUICIDOLOGY:  CONTEMPORARY DEVELOPMENTS

 

Religion and Death

 

K. Garces-Foley (ed.), DEATH AND RELIGION IN A CHANGING WORLD

Jacques LeGoff, THE BIRTH OF PURGATORY

Frederick Paxton, CHRISTIANIZING DEATH

 

Psychological & Philosophical Perspectives

           

* Ernest Becker, THE DENIAL OF DEATH; ESCAPE FROM EVIL

Leo Braudy, FROM CHIVALRY TO TERRORISM: WAR & THE CHANGING NATURE OF MASCULINITY

Norman O. Brown, LIFE AGAINST DEATH

* Jacques Choron, MODERN MAN AND MORTALITY

Alan Harrington, THE IMMORTALIST

Edith Wyschogrod, THE PHENOMENON OF DEATH

 

 

 

 

Perspectives of the Natural Sciences

 

William Bass et al., DEATH’S ACRE: INSIDE THE LEGENDARY FORENSIC LAB, THE BODY FARM, WHERE THE DEAD DO TELL TALES  

William Clark, SEX AND THE ORIGINS OF DEATH

Jared Diamond, COLLAPSE: HOW SOCIETIES CHOOSE TO FAIL OR SUCCEED

Paul Ehrlich, THE POPULATION BOMB, POPULATION EXPLOSION

Walter McDougall, THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH: A POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE SPACE AGE

S. J. Olshansky & Bruce A. Carnes, THE QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY: SCIENCE AT THE FRONTIERS OF AGING

Richard Posner, CATASTROPHE: RISK AND RESPONSE [how should society respond to risk of planet-killing asteroids, global warming, etc.?]

David Raup, THE NEMESIS AFFAIR: A STORY OF DEATH OF DINOSAURS AND THE WAYS OF SCIENCE

Thierry Hentsch, TRUTH OR DEATH: THE QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY IN THE WESTERN NARRATIVE TRADITION

 

Death, Work and Consumerism

 

Daniel Berman, DEATH ON THE JOB       

William Bogard, THE BHOPAL TRAGEDY: LANGUAGE, LOGIC, AND POLITICS IN THE PRODUCTION OF A HAZARD

Geoffrey Clark, BETTING ON LIVES: THE CULTURE OF LIFE INSURANCE IN ENGLAND 1695-1775

Remi Clignet, DEATH, DEEDS, AND DESCENDENTS: INHERITANCE IN MODERN AMERICA

David Von Drehle, TRIANGLE: THE FIRE THAT CHANGED AMERICA

Tom Dwyer, LIFE AND DEATH AT WORK: INDUSTRIAL ACCIDENTS AS A CASE IF SOCIALLY PRODUCED ERROR

Dan Fagan, Marianne Lavelle, TOXIC DECEPTION

Richard Kluger. ASHES TO ASHES: AMERICA'S HUNDRED-YEARS CIGARETTE WAR AND THE UNABASHED TRIUMPH OF PHILIP MORRIS

Michael Lesy, THE FORBIDDEN ZONE

Priscilla Long, WHERE THE SUN NEVER SHINES: A HISTORY OF AMERICA'S BLOODY COAL INDUSTRY

Charles Perrow, NORMAL ACCIDENTS: LIVING WITH HIGH RISK TECHNOLOGIES

John Ross, MURDERED BY CAPITALISM: A MEMOIR OF 150 YEARS OF LIFE AND DEATH ON THE AMERICAN LEFT

 

Funeral Industry

 

James Farell, INVENTING THE AMERICAN WAY OF DEATH, 1830-1920

* Robert Habenstein, Wm. Lamers THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN FUNERAL DIRECTING

Glennys Howarth, LAST RITES: THE WORK OF THE MODERN FUNERAL DIRECTOR

Gary Laderman, REST IN PEACE: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF DEATH AND THE FUNERAL HOME IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Thomas Lynch, THE UNDERTAKING: LIFE STUDIES FROM THE DISMAL TRADE

Jessica Mitford, THE AMERICAN WAY OF DEATH, THE AMERICAN WAY OF DEATH REVISITED

Van Pine, CARETAKER OF THE DEAD: THE AMERICAN FUNERAL DIRECTOR

Darryl Roberts,  PROFITS OF DEATH

Michael Sappol, A TRAFFIC OF DEAD BODIES: ANATOMY AND EMBODIED SOCIAL

IDENTITY IN 19TH-CENTURY AMERICA

 

Politics and Death

 

Ulrich Beck, RISK SOCIETY: TOWARDS A NEW MODERNITY

Christopher Browning, ORDINARY MEN

Sarah Farmer, MARTYRED VILLAGE: COMMEMORATING THE 1944 MASSACRE AT ORADOUR-SUR-GLANE

Franklin Ford, POLITICAL MURDER: FROM TYRANNICIDE TO TERRORISM

Anthony Giddens, THE NATION-STATE AND VIOLENCE

Michael Grynberg (ed.), WORDS TO OUTLIVE US: EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS

FROM THE WARSAW GHETTO

Alexander L. Hinton (ed.), GENOCIDE: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL READER

Adam Hochschild, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Robert Lifton, REVOLUTIONARY IMMORTALITY

Edward Linenthal, THE UNFINISHED BOMBING: OKLAHOMA CITY IN AMERICAN MEMORY

Samantha Powers, A PROBLEM FROM HELL: AMERICA & THE AGE OF GENOCIDE

           

Abortion

 

Linda Gordon, THE MORAL PROPERTY OF WOMEN: A HISTORY OF BIRTH CONTROL POLITICS IN AMERICA

Faye Ginsburg, UNCONTESTED LIVES: THE ABORTION DEBATE IN AN AMERICAN COMMUNITY

Kristin Luker, ABORTION AND THE POLITICS OF MOTHERHOOD

James Mohr, ABORTION IN AMERICA: THE EVOLUTION OF NATIONAL POLICY

Leslie Reagan, WHEN ABORTION WAS A CRIME

Roger Rosenblatt, LIFE ITSELF: ABORTION IN THE AMERICAN MIND

Suzanne Staggenborg, THE PRO-CHOICE MOVEMENT: ORGANIZATION AND ACTIVISM IN THE ABORTION CONFLICT

 

 

Capital Punishment 

 

Hugo Bedau, THE DEATH PENALTY IN AMERICA

Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND THE AMERICAN AGENDA

Austin Sarat, WHEN THE STATE KILLS: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT AND THE AMERICAN CONDITION

 

 

 

Death and the Military Experience

 

* Paul Boyer, BY THE BOMB'S EARLY LIGHT: AMERICAN THOUGHT AND CULTURE AT THE DAWN OF THE ATOMIC AGE

John Dower, WAR WITHOUT MERCY: RACE AND POWER IN THE PACIFIC WAR

John Keegan, A HISTORY OF WARFARE

Raymond Kelly, WARLESS SOCIETIES AND THE ORIGIN OF WAR

Stephen LeBlanc, CONSTANT BATTLES: THE MYTH OF THE PEACEFUL, NOBLE SAVAGE

* Robert Lifton, THE BROKEN CONNECTION, DEATH IN LIFE, HIROSHIMA IN AMERICA: A HALF CENTURY OF DENIAL

Sue Mansfield, THE GESTALTS OF WAR

Eileen Welsome, THE PLUTONIUM FILES

 

Death and Pop Art

 

Charles Derry, DARK DREAMS: A PSYCHOLOGICAL HISTORY OF THE MODERN HORROR FILM

David Giles, ILLUSIONS OF IMMORTALITY: A PSYCHOLOGY OF FAME AND CELEBRITY

Linda and Michael Hutcheon, OPERA: THE ART OF DYING

Charlton McIlwain, WHEN DEATH GOES POP: DEATH, MEDIA & THE REMAKING OF COMMUNITY

Reynolds Price, A WHOLE NEW LIFE

Philip Lee Williams, HEART OF A DISTANT FOREST 

 

Medical Routinizations of Death and the Reactions Against It

 

Lisa Belkin, FIRST, DO NO HARM

Howard Brodie,  ETHICAL DECISIONS IN MEDICINE

Arthur Caplan, WHEN MEDICINE WENT MAD: BIOETHICS AND THE HOLOCAUST

Nicholas Christakis, DEATH FORETOLD

Peter Filene, IN THE ARMS OF OTHERS: A CULTURAL HISTORY OF THE RIGHT-TO-DIE IN AMERICA

Hugh Gregory Gallagher, BY TRUST BETRAYED: PATIENTS, PHYSICIANS, AND THE LICENSE TO KILL IN THE THIRD

Derek Humphry & Mary Clement, FREEDOM TO DIE: PEOPLE, POLITICS, AND THE RIGHT TO DIE MOVEMENT

Edith Efron,  THE APOCALYPTICS: ­POLITICS, SCIENCE, AND THE BIG  CANCER LIE

Daniel Hillyard & John Dombrink, DYING RIGHT: THE DEATH WITH DIGNITY MOVEMENT

Margaret Lock, TWICE DEAD: ORGAN TRANSPLANTS AND THE REINVENTION OF DEATH

Charles F. McKhann, M.D., A TIME TO DIE: THE PLACE FOR PHYSICIAN ASSISTANCE

Osborn Segerberg, THE IMMORTALITY FACTOR

Wesley Smith, CULTURE OF DEATH: THE ASSAULT ON MEDICAL ETHICS IN AMERICA

Harvey Wachsman, LETHAL MEDICINE: THE EPIDEMIC OF MEDICAL

MALPRACTICE IN AMERICA

James L. Werth, Jr. (ed.), CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES ON RATIONAL SUICIDE

Sue Woodman, Last Rights: The Struggle Over the Right to Die

 

Socialization Towards Death

 

*Sally Cline, LIFTING THE TABOO: WOMEN, DEATH AND DYING

Sarah Cook, CHILDREN AND DYING

Charles Corr and Joan McNeil, ADOLESCENCE AND DEATH

E. Furman, A CHILD'S PARENT DIES

Richard Lonetto, CHILDREN'S CONCEPTIONS OF DEATH

Myra Bluebond-Langer, THE PRIVATE WORLD OF DYING CHILDREN

 

Near Death Experiences

           

Simone de Beauvoir, A VERY EASY DEATH

George Gallup, ADVENTURES IN IMMORTALITY

Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss, AWARENESS OF DYING

Elisabeth Kübler‑Ross, ON DEATH AND DYING

R. Moody, LIFE AFTER LIFE

Don Morse, SEARCHING FOR ETERNITY: A SCIENTIST’S SPIRITUAL JOURNEY TO  OVERCOME DEATH

* Sherwin Nuland, HOW WE DIE

Michael Sabom, RECOLLECTIONS OF DEATH: A MEDICAL INVESTIGATION

Edwin Shneidman, VOICES OF DEATH

Marilyn Webb, THE GOOD DEATH: THE NEW AMERICAN SEARCH TO RESHAPE THE END OF LIFE

 

Grief, Mourning, and Bereavement

 

Kenneth Doka, Disenfranchised Grief

* Geoffrey Gorer, DEATH, GRIEF, AND BEREAVEMENT

Samuel Heilman, WHEN A JEW DIES: THE ETHNOGRAPHY OF A BEREAVED SON

Jenny Hockey, Jeanne Katz, and Neil Small (eds.), GRIEF, MOURNING AND DEATH RITUAL

John Irving, A WIDOW FOR A YEAR

Richard Kalish, DEATH, GRIEF, AND CARING RELATIONSHIPS

Helena Lopata, WIDOWHOOD IN AN AMERICAN CITY and WOMEN AS WIDOWS: SUPPORT SYSTEMS

Peter Noll, IN THE FACE OF DEATH

Colin Murray Parkes, BEREAVEMENT: STUDIES OF GRIEF IN ADULT LIFE

Paul Rosenblatt, et al. GRIEF AND MOURNING IN CROSS-CULTURAL  PERSPECTIVE

Sheldon Vanauken,  A SEVERE MERCY 

Tony Walter, ON BEREAVEMENT: THE CULTURE OF GRIEF

Nicholas Waltersdorf, LAMENT FOR A SON

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic Parts and Assignments of the Course by Week:

 

(Note: The time spent on each unit might vary a little.  The quantity and quality of discussion is a factor, as you would expect.)

 

Weeks 1-2:   Aug. 29 – Sept. 9 (No class on Labor Day)

  

  Part I:  Thinking About Death

           

Text Reading:  Kastenbaum, Chapters 2-3 

 

(Note: You are perfectly free to read chapter one anytime, but for my part, I do not want to start our course on talking about 9-11.  We have a very good book at the end of the course about the concept of public tragedy and it covers terrorism.)

           

Guiding questions and key issues:

How can the concepts of anxiety, denial, acceptance help us think about dying and death?

What are the most widely held theories on death anxiety?  (e.g., Freud, Becker, Tomer and

Eliason)

            Death as a symbolic construction

            Biomedical Approaches to death (Harvard Critiera and brain death)

            Are there levels of deadness?  Brain death and organ donation

            Tricky terminology:  Death as an event or a state of something

            Personifications and other ways of naming death

 

 

Weeks 3,4 5, 6:   Sept. 12 – October 7

 

(Group One Class Presentation, Friday, Oct. 7)

 

Part II:  Kastenbaum’ Death System and the Sociology of It

 

            Text Reading:  Kastenbaum Chapters 4,5, 6, 7

           

Guiding questions:

            What does Kastenbaum mean by Death System?

            What are its components and key functions?

            What are the causes of death and how have they changed over time?

            Variations caused by religion

            WWDS?  (What would Durkheim say?)  (A good bit of sociological

                        Terminology here, including social structure, status and role ideas)

            Taking on the status of dying (and its roles) in various social structure

            What is a dying trajectory (Glasser and Strauss’ Time for Dying and Awareness of Dying)

            Doctor—Patient Communications

            Models of the Dying Process (Kubler-Ross, and others)

            Hospice as a radical idea (making the case of palliative care)

            End of life decisions

           

                       

Weeks 7—8 : October 10—21

          (Fall Break, October 17)

 

                (Group Two Class Presentation Friday, October 14

                Group Three Class Presentation, Friday, October 21

            Group Four Class Presentation, Friday, October 28)

 

Mid-Term Exam Around the 8th Week.

 

            Part III:  “Death Without Much, if any, Dying”

 

            Text Reading:  Kastenbaum 8 (Suicide), 9 Violent Death)

 

            Key Issues:  Suicide and Violent Death

            Who is “at risk” for suicide?

Why is suicide so terrible as a way to die?

            What did you know who have to say about suicide?

            Murder, war, terrorism, disaster, and accidents (can you think of a happier quintet

of words?)

 

Weeks 9-10:   October 24--Nov. -4

 

          Group Five Class Presentation, Friday, November 4

            Group Six Class Presentation, Friday, November 11

            Group Seven Class Presentation, Friday, November 18

 

            Part IV:  Human Intervention in Dying and Death (as opposed to God’s)

 

            Text Reading:  Kastenbaum’s Chapter 10 (Euthanasia, Assisted Death, Abortion,

Right to Die)

 

            Lots to think about here. 

 

 

Weeks 11--12:   Nov. 7—18

 

Part V.:  The Status of  Bereavement

 

Text Readings:  Kastenbaum’s Chapters 12 (Bereavement, Grief, and Mourning)

and 13 (The Funeral Process)

                                                   

 

Part VI:  The Good Death

 

Text Reading:  Kastenbaum’s Chapter 16

 

 

Weeks 13-15:  November 21—December 9

 

            Group Eight Class Presentation, Monday, November 21

 

            Part VII:   Coping with Loss and Public Tragedy

                       

            Reading:  Living With Grief:  Coping with Public Tragedy

 

 

Due Dates Again:

 

Reflection Assignment                        Friday, September 9

Mid-Term                                around October 21

Book Reviews                         Friday, November 11

Group Presentation Write-up  Friday, November 18

Final Exam                              Wed, December 14, 3-5:30

 

Group One Class Presentation, Friday, Oct. 7

Group Two Class Presentation Friday, October 14

Group Three Class Presentation, Friday, October 21

Group Four Class Presentation, Friday, October 28

Group Five Class Presentation, Friday, November 4

Group Six Class Presentation, Friday, November 11

Group Seven Class Presentation, Friday, November 18

Group Eight Class Presentation, Monday, November 21

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attachment

 

Draft Rating Instrument for Class Presentations in Sociology 332, Fall 2005

 

Group __________

 

Please rate the presentation along the following standards.  Be objective, even it this was not necessarily a favorite topic of yours.

 

The rating scale is from 0 to 5, with

  • 5 means that the presentation nicely exceeded the standard,
  • 4 means that it adequately met the standard,
  • 3 means minimally met the standard,
  • 2 that it was slightly below the standard,
  • 1 it not close, and
  • 0 it was way off the standard

 

Circle or check the number that best reflects your reaction to how the presentation addressed the following standards.

 

The presentation was on a topic relevant to                             5     4     3     2    1     0

the course.                                                                               

 

The presentation fell within the allotted time                 5     4     3     2    1     0

of 20 minutes.

 

The presentation was appropriate for a college                      5     4     3     2    1     0

level audience.

 

Presenters made the presentation engaging.                             5     4     3     2    1     0

 

The presentation was literate.                                      5     4     3     2    1     0

 

The presentation raised interesting questions.                       5     4     3     2    1     0

 

Presenters offered a conclusion that closed                              5     4     3     2    1     0

the presentation smoothly.

 

The presentation seemed to utilize several                                  5     4     3     2    1     0           

credible sources.

 

There was evidence that the presenters                          5     4     3     2    1     0           

tried to be creative.

 

Presenters exhibited enthusiasm for the topic.                        5     4     3     2    1     0