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Death and Dying at the End of the World
SOC 292
Spring 2020
Section: 01  

Death looms large over life. The digital has given people unprecedented access to global media focused on death and dying, from far-flung calamities killing thousands to intimate gofundme pages for your friends' cancer treatments. In an age of data-enabled prediction and preemption, death is capricious and untimely, remaining stubbornly resistant to scientific and philosophical certainty, despite ever more complex systems for death management. Meanwhile, circulating discourses of ecological and political catastrophe have proliferated thoughts of genocide, extinction, and planetary death. In this course, we look at contemporary encounters with death and dying at a variety of scales, from the search for death's meaning/a meaningful death, to understanding death as a public feeling and inspiration for political imagination.

We explore the reemergence of mainstream scientific interest in hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs, particularly their role in end-of-life therapy and their use in understanding death-adjacent and near-death experiences. Going from drugs that help you come to terms with death, we look at contrasting impulses: immortality fantasies to extend and ultimately eliminate death through dynamic digital storage, along with technologies that complicate the temporalities of mourning and memorialization. If the digital can inspire fantasies of immortality, it can also provide a platform for death via the proxy of remote warfare and drones, connecting us to histories of state violence and subjection. Finally, we read speculative fiction and philosophy to grapple with the social and political impact of mass horror, especially ecological disaster.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS SOC
Course Format: DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (HRAD-MN)(SOC)
Past Enrollment Probability: Less than 50%

Last Updated on JUN-22-2024
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