Trang X. Ta
Examines a topic, theme, problem, or area of the world in order to provide a deeper understanding of an aspect of Global Studies.
COMPARATIVE STUDY OF DEATH (Winter 2011)
Death is an inevitable part of life. Comparative Study of Death will explore the meaning and materiality of death in various societies. Topics under examination will include the biomedical definition of death, mortuary rites, memorialization practices, forms of care during the dying process, the invention of a new category of death called "brain death" for organ procurement purposes, the funeral industry, the rise of "green" funerals and the environmental concerns regarding preservation and disposal of corpses, popular culture references to zombies, the undead, the living dead and ghosts, ideas of the afterlife and reincarnation, and technologies around life extension. In this course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the multiple dimensions of the most fundamental human experience.
Student learning goals
Understand the social and symbolic practices focused on death and dying in human societies around the world.
Develop an original research project that represents the culmination of learning from the course.
Present ideas with clarity and articulate critiques that will offer enlightenment on the material.
Practice close reading of the course materials to help in formulating thoughtful critiques for written assignments and class discussion.
General method of instruction
Discussion based seminar focused on the readings.
A broad liberal arts background will be useful. Familiarity with anthropology, medicine, and philosophy will be particularly beneficial for this course.
Class assignments and grading
Presentations, writing assignments, and original research project.
Grades are based on the clarity of the presentation of ideas, perceptive analysis of the research topics, insightful utilization of the course readings, and quality of written prose.