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Sociology of Death and Dying - Section Questions January 23rd
"Whoever does something for its intrinsic value as opposed to what or where it can get him or her…is, in some degree, receptive to regarding life in qualitative, rather than quantitative and materialistic, terms." 
- Killilea pg. 345 The Path Ahead.
"Greiving is very much a process of relearning the world" - Chinen pg. 340 The Path Ahead.

"Is Death Education a Nasty Secret?" (324-5) & "Visions in Death Education" (331-3)
These two articles treat the way in which death is treated, or more often, ignored, in public discourse.  What might be some of the benefits of incorporating death education into public schools, universities, and the medical field?  What factors hinder the incorporation of death education in various schools and how might these obstacles be overcome?  Or, on the other hand, do you think death education should not be taught in schools, especially for instance, when it comes to elementary and junior high schools? 
"Self-Mounrning" (339-41) & "Bearing the Unbearable" (349-53)
Both of these articles treat the emotional and psychological possibilities opened up by death-accepting attitudes, by living more closely with finiteness.  What are some of the positive characteristics that these articles suggest arise from an appreciation of mortality and how can they be cultivated? How do Audre Lorde, Ted Rosenthal, and other people the article covers incorporate self-mourning into their lives? 

"Contemporary African-American Funeral Rites and Traditions" (85-92)
How do the African-American funerals described in this article differ from traditional European-American funerals?  What cultural influences and cosmological perspectives shaped the African American funeral described in the article?  What elements from the African-American funeral seen in last week's video support or challenge the main arguments of Barrett's article?

"The Politics of Being Mortal" (all)
This article treats the relationship between greed, material accumulation, and self-interest on the one hand and American cultural understandings of death and dying on the other.  What is the relationship between these Capitalist values and death and dying?  How might our economic and social values shaped by our fear of death, according to this article?  How might a more accepting relationship to death change what we value?
In the movie version of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, the film shows the "hallucinations" of the main character during the last moments of his life.  Wendy noted that a cultural fantasy of "invulnerability" makes us want to believe that the main character in fact escapes his hanging, in spite of illogical occurences (the man undoing his rope underwater, not getting hit by bullets etc…).  When, if at all, did you first doubt whether or not the escape was "real"?  When did you realize that he had in fact died? What does our willingness to believe this story in spite of its contradictions say about larger cultural understandings of death? 

Free-write #1: What are some of the daily or symbolic experiences of death (such as those Wendy outlined in class yesterday) that effect you and how?
Free-write #2: In what way might self-mourning, as a daily practice, change your attitudes to life and living?  How might you incorporate living with death into your everyday life?
Free-write #3: Choose one (or both) of the quotations from the top of this page and give your thoughts and reactions to it.