Death & Dying in the American South Call for Papers

ThanatourismOn April 1-2, 2011, the History Department at NC State University will host an interdisciplinary conference to provide an exchange of ideas and perspectives on issues related to death and dying in the American South. The goal of the conference is to initiate and support research projects and conversations that will lead to a forthcoming collection on Death in the South.

The region has long enjoyed a reputation as the “Haunted South,” one built upon the persistence of death, evidenced for example in the forms of the malarial environments of the colonial South, Indian wars, the atrocities of slavery, dueling, high maternal death rates, the Civil War and the Confederate dead, lynching, the struggles of the Depression, Civil Rights assassinations and murders, and most recently Hurricane Katrina. But historians continue to examine the South without attention to death as a formative influence on southern life and culture.

They invite scholarship on a variety of topics, including:

  • murder, political assassination, lynching, war deaths
  • the right to die (suicide, euthanasia, self-sacrifice)
  • the right to kill (death penalty, eugenics, assisted dying, and sacrifice)
  • bodily disposal, including implications of the shift from burial to cremation
  • acts of commemoration, mourning practices, and rituals
  • burial customs, graveyards and cemeteries
  • treatment of human remains in archaeology, pathology, and museum practice
  • poetic, literary, and musical interpretations of death
  • dichotomies between history and memory
  • mourning, bereavement, coping with grief
  • death and sex
  • representations of death in public history interpretations, including thanatourism
  • religion and the meaning of death
  • ritualization of death
  • privacy/intimacy of death
  • the cult of death

Interested scholars should submit a title, a 250-word abstract for a 20-minute presentation, and a c.v. to Craig Friend at craig_friend[at]ncsu[dot]edu by December 10, 2010. Decisions as to accepted proposals will be made by December 20, 2010. Invited participants will receive travel and accommodations.

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