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current students > seminars > spring 2012 schedule > seminar: Victims, Vampires, War Dead & Other Corpses: Mediating Death in American Culture


Honors Seminars Spring 2012

Victims, Vampires, War Dead & Other Corpses: Mediating Death in American Culture

HON 296 Sec:003  
3 hours  
GER Cat:
Interdisciplinary Perspectives  
16:10 - 18:55  
Dr. Sarah R. Stein
Associate Professor

Popular media constantly bombard us these days with images of death and dead bodies. Police investigation dramas open each episode with a body of the week, the zombies of AMC's The Walking Dead shuffle into our living rooms, and the vampires of Twilight, True Blood, and their ilk stalk our televisions, movie theaters, game consoles, and cultural imagination. We seemingly stare at death perhaps more than ever, but are we truly facing death through our media culture, or are these mediated images of corpses assisting us in rejecting death? Does the body of the victim on CSI represent merely a mystery to be solved? The multiple "lives" of the video game avatar a denial of death's finality? The grim "scientific" humor of Spike TV's 1000 Ways to Die a way to laugh off its seriousness?

Rooted in the current research of its instructors, this course will draw from television, film, comic books, news coverage, advertising, and video games in examining contemporary visual media images of death and dead bodies, comparing and assessing these with respect to religious, psychological, sociological, political, and biological perspectives on death. Class meetings will include guests who deal with death and dead bodies professionally (e.g., a forensic investigator, mortician, diverse religious leaders), and students will engage in original research related to course topics. It is expected that students' insights and research will play an integral role in this course.