“Death and Dying in American Culture”
American Studies Leipzig (ASL), Germany
Annual MA-Level Graduate Student Conference
Leipzig, March 21-22, 2014
The Leipzig MA-level graduate student conference “Death and Dying in American Culture” seeks to explore diverse representations and conceptions of death as well as investigate social, cultural, and political perspectives on the topic. In recent years, popular TV series such as CSI, Bones, Dexter, andGame of Thrones have exposed viewers to high numbers of dead bodies per episode, yet in the news media, it remains largely taboo to depict the death and dying of Americans. From fallen soldiers to shooting victims, news media reduce the dead to symbolic representations in order to avoid dealing with the finality and omnipresence of death. However, in current scholarly discourse, books such as Drop Dead Gorgeous: Representations of Corpses in American TV Shows (2011) by Tina Weber, and Death, American Style: A Cultural History of Dying in America (2013) by Lawrence R. Samuel investigate death and dying from a sociological and cultural perspective. As American demographics shift toward an older population, social and political institutions are also increasingly forced to deal with death and dying. The prevalence of “Death and Dying in American Culture,” and society’s reluctance to confront it is a phenomenon that is fascinating and provides a particularly fertile subject for discussion.
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