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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

E. Floyd Aranyosi
RELIG 320
Seattle Campus

Comparative Study of Death

Death analyzed from a cross-cultural perspective. Topics include funerary practices, concepts of the soul and afterlife, cultural variations in grief, cemeteries as folk art, and medical and ethical issues in comparative context. American death practices compared to those of other cultures. Offered: jointly with ANTH 322.

Class description

Bio-physical aspects of death and dying, archaeological analyses of ancient mortuary practices, cultural and religious interpretations of death in contemporary societies, the process of grief and the history of death and mortuary practices worldwide will be the major themes addressed in this course. Students will learn how people have interpreted, understood, and coped with death, both in modern times and in the past.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Lectures are held daily, and weekly reading assignments will be provided.

Recommended preparation

Students should come to class prepared to focus on a specific aspect of the cultural, biological, archaeological, or religious study of death and mortuary ritual. The topic chosen by the student will be the basis for her/his term paper. Prior to the start of the quarter, the student should ask him/herself "why am I taking this course?" What aspect of death and/or funerary practice inspires the student's interest? No preparatory reading is required.

Class assignments and grading

Two exams, a midterm and a final, will cover topics raised in lectures and readings. The exams, together, will constitute 50 percent of the student's grade. A single term paper reviewing a special topic in the anthropological and/or religious study of death will constitute the remainder of the grade.

The Midterm exam is worth up to 100 points, the final exam is worth up to 100 points, and the term paper is worth up to 200 points. A total of 400 points are available, and grades will be assigned on a 4.0 scale. Students' final grade can be calculated by summing the total number of points earned and dividing by 100.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by E. Floyd Aranyosi
Date: 04/22/2003