ARCH0310 Spring18 S01 Interactions with the Dead: Past and Present

ARCH0310 Spring18 S01 Interactions with the Dead: Past and Present

InteractionsDead_Syllabus .pdfScreen Shot 2017-11-07 at 11.09.00 AM.png

Course Description

Death is an inevitable, and an inseparable component of life. There are however, certain moments that bring the living closer to the dead. This course aims to look particularly at these moments: How do different cultures and religions react to death and treat dead bodies? How do we commemorate and celebrate death? Who has rights over the dead? What can we learn about the living by studying the dead? To answer these questions we will survey the diversity of interactions with the dead by exploring examples from the ancient and modern world.

Course Organization

This course focuses on the reactions to death and dying in different cultures, religions, and disciplines as a means to understand human experience with death throughout history. Every week we will focus on a different theme, which will be first presented with archaeological and historical case studies. We will then discuss how these case studies connect to our understanding of that theme in the present by looking at modern case studies. We will also be engaging with local histories: the class will visit Providence’s oldest public cemeteries (either North Burial Ground or Swan Point Cemetery), museums, and mortuary monuments in and around Providence. In the classes we will use a broad range of tools and media including objects, journal articles, popular books, and documentary films.

Learning Objectives

• to understand the relevancy of the past to the present

• to appreciate the diversity of human cultures —past and present—, learn to respect it, and be able to acknowledge commonalities we share as humans

• to critically think about issues, problems, difficulties, and advantages of studying human remains

• to gain an understanding of the theories, events, and social contexts that shaped the our understanding and the study of death and burial

• to gain insight into the variety of mortuary practices in the world and examine what these practices tell us about cultures and societies

• to acquire practical (team work, public speaking), academic (research, analytical thinking) skills

Course Summary:

Date Details Due