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Death: Confronting the Great Divide

Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere, University of Florida

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View lectures from this series online.

General Objectives of the Series

Death is an inescapable part of life. Yet, our attitudes toward death have changed significantly in the modern, Western world. While once considered a central focus of everyday and community life, death today is increasingly seen as something to be expedited (among the infirm), sanitized (through the funeral profession), and, for some, avoided at any cost. Consequently, the most human and cultural dimensions of death are overlooked, and we risk becoming desensitized to the kind of violence that is all too common and frequently sensationalized by the news media.

In light of the enormous but often unconsidered place of death in modern human existence, the humanities disciplines create a space for considering death’s impact on our lives by broadening the discussion beyond the individual and anecdotal. By offering historical, comparative, and intersectional perspectives on death, the humanities provide insights into the mechanisms that humans have developed over millennia to mythologize, theorize, cope with, and overcome its associated losses.

Drawing on both historical and contemporary examples, invited speakers in this eight-part series will draw our attention to the inevitability of the end facing all living creatures, the various ways in which humans have learned to live with knowledge of their mortality, and how bereavement rituals impact our environment and community. With input from scholars in a range of disciplines, including scholars of history, religion, environmental studies, Latin American studies, history of medicine,and art history, the series reveals how learning in the humanities can help us better understand one of the most integral parts of life: the end of life.

Series Funders and Co-Sponsors: UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (Rothman Endowment), UF Smathers LibrariesUF Office of ResearchSchool of Art + Art History’s Harn Eminent Scholar Lecture SeriesUF International CenterUF College of Liberal Arts and SciencesUF Department of History,UF Department of Spanish and Portuguese StudiesUF Center for Latin American StudiesUF Department of ReligionAlachua County Library DistrictUF College of Veterinary Medicine, UF Digital Worlds InstituteUF Honors Program.

Fall 2016

Spring 2017