Sociology Index -

Sociology of Death and Dying Syllabus

Books on Sociology of Death, Sociology of Death & Dying

Soc 320 - Sociology of Death - chapman.edu

Sociology of Death and Dying - IUPUI
This course examines inevitable and salient features of the human condition. Historical evaluation of images and attitudes toward death, the medicalization of death, the human consequences of high-tech dying, the role of the family in caring for dying loved ones, the emergence and role of hospices, the social roles of funerals, grief and bereavement, euthanasia and suicide, the worlds of dying children and grieving parents, and genocide are major issues that are addressed.

Two of the major themes of the course revolve around the idea that the way we die is a reflection of the way we live; and, that the study of dying and death is an important way of studying and affirming the value of life.

Study Questions: The sociology of death and dying - D. Moller

1) What does the life and death experience of Kirk Baines suggest about the problem of meaning in life and dying in American culture?

2) In what ways does the experience of Kirk Baines reflect the vision of Tolstoy regarding the meaningfulness of modern dying? How is the epiphany of Kirk Baines similar and dissimilar to that of Ivan Illich?

3) What are the salient differences between traditional and modern forms of dying?

4) Why has modern dying become so difficult?

5) What social factors underlie the rejection of the medicalized model of death?

6) How has the thanatology revolution changed the pattern of medicalized death?

7) Has the thanatology, hospice, and palliative care movement resulted in personal, moral, and cultural peace with dying?

Sociology of Death & Grief, Soc 330-01 - Professor Roseanne Martorella - William Paterson College, Wayne NJ

COURSE OBJECTIVES:

  • Acquaint students with the sociological perspective in the area of death and grief;
  • Explore our own attitudes toward death and dying;
  • Understand the effects of society on dying behavior and grief;
  • Understand how the dying individual is affected by his family, friends, and the medical and nursing professions;
  • Analyze the effect of bureaucratic settings (hospitals, old age homes, etc.) on the behavior of the dying individual, his family and the service workers in the organization;
  • Examine the ethical issues surrounding death and dying in contemporary American society.

REQUIRED READINGS:
The Last Dance: Encountering Death & Dying, 3rd edition, by DeSpelder and Strickland. Palo Alto, California: Mayfield Publishing Company, l992.
Death in the Midst of Life. by Jack Kamerman. New York: Prentice Hall, l988.

Lesson I - General Introduction
Psychology Questionnaire

Lesson II - Cemetery Report

Lesson III - THE SOCIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE
Film - "Death"

Lesson IV - CROSS-CULTURAL/HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON DEATH, LAST RITES AND BURIAL CUSTOMS

Lesson V - Slide Presentation of "King Tut"

Lesson VI - PERSONAL ATTITUDES AND REACTIONS
Kamerman

Lesson VII - GRIEF & BEREAVEMENT
Kamerman

Lesson VIII - Films: "Time to Mourn and Choose" and "Grief"

Lesson IX - DEATH IN CHILDREN'S LIVES (cognitive awareness of death; stages; loss of pets)
Kamerman
Films: "Childhood Cancer,"
"When Children Grieve"

Lesson X - SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND DEATH
Visit funeral home

Lesson XI - HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS
Kamerman

Lesson XII - STAGES OF DYING
On Death and Dying, Kubler-Ross
Film: "To Live Until you Die," featuring Dr. Kubler-Ross

Lesson XIII - MOURNING, PUBLIC AND PRIVATE
Kamerman

Film presentation of "Gramps"

Lesson XIV - SUICIDE
Kamerman

Lesson XV - MEDICAL ETHICS AND DEATH & DYING
Film presentation: "Who's Life Is It Anyway"


SOC 320 - Sociology of Death
Required Texts:
1. Bernard McGrane - The Un-TV and the 10 MPH Car
2. Inge Bell - This Book Is Not Required (Revised Edition)
3. Leo Tolstoy - The Death of Ivan Ilich
4. Simone de Beauvoir - A Very Easy Death
5. John James and Russell Friedman - The Grief Recovery Handbook (Revised Edition)
6. Mitch Alben - Tuesdays with Morrie
7. Philippe Aries - Western Attitudes Towards Death
8. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross - On Death and Dying
9. Ernest Becker - The Denial of Death
10. Stephen Levine - Who Dies
11. Raymond Moody - Life After Life
12. Carlos Castaneda - Journey to Ixtlan
13. Sogyal Rinpoche - The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying
14. Reader: "Bardo"

Recommended Texts:
1. Philippe Aries - The Hour of Our Death
2. Michel Foucault - Madness and Civilization
3. Norbert Elias - The Loneliness of Dying
4. R. Kastenbaum - Death, Society and Human Experience: Is There Life After Death
5. Jacques Choron - Death and Western Thought
6. Richard Selzer - Mortal Lessons
7. Audrey Gordon - They Need to Know, How to Teach Children About Death
8. Philip Kapleau - The Wheel of Death
9. Da Free John - Easy Death
10. Trungpa and Freemantle - The Tibetan Book of the Dead
11. Herman Feifel - The Meaning of Death
12. Edwin Schneidman - Voices of Death
13. George Bataille - Death and Sensuality
14. Colin Wilson - Afterlife
15. Avery Weisman - The Coping Capacity
16. Joel Whitton - Life Between Life
17. Stephen Levine - Healing Into Life and Death
18. John Robbins - Diet for a New America
19. P. Sargent, I. Watson - Afterlives
20. Marie-Louise von Franz - On Dreams and Death
21. Robert Bosnak - A Little Course in Dreams

How do humans learn of death (a philosophical-epistemological question and also a psychological question of child development)? What is death? Is it a natural phenomenon or does it require explanation in non-natural terms ? What does the history of death, of the idea of death, look like?

How has contemporary society provided us with a framework to ignore death? How has it trained us to cultivate a fantasy mentality, a perpetual forgetfulness towards the realities of old age, death and dying. When and how did death become denied and repressed? Is it possible to re-discover the ordinariness of death?

Are there significant variations in the experience and interpretation of death from epoch to epoch (an historical question), from culture to culture (an anthropological question)? What specific social conditions tend to heighten the awareness of death? The denial of death? The fear of death? The ordinariness of death? How has death-related behavior, mourning customs, burial rites (burying, burning, embalming, etc.) changed historically?

Tolstoy - Death of Ivan Illich

Rinpoche - The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying

James and Friedman - The Grief Recovery Handbook

Kapleau - Wheel of Death

Mark and Dan Jury - Gramps, A Man Ages and Dies

Film - Ikiru, Interview with Morrie Schwartz

Kubler-Ross, On Death & Dying (entire)

Aries - Western Attitudes Towards Death (entire);

Becker, The Denial of Death

McGrane, The Un-TV

"Bardo" - Becker's Death Bed Interviews

"Bardo" - Animals, Death, Diet and Ethics

Sogyal Rinpoche - The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying

Stephen Levine - Who Dies

Raymond Moody - Life After Life

Carlos Castaneda - Journey to Ixtlan

"Bardo" - The Wisdom of the West and the Wisdom of the East

Recommended reading: The American Way of Death

COURSE READER: Sociology of Death - "Bardo"

1) Blaise Pascal - Man's Disproportion (from Pascal's Pensees)

2) M. Montaigne - That to Philosophize Is to Learn to Die (from Essays)

3) James Dickey - Falling

4) Fydor Dostoevsky - Death as a Certainty (from The Idiot)

5) Jean Paul Sartre - The Wall

6) Aldous Huxley - Death Scene (from Island)

7) B. Malinowski - Death and the Reintegration of the Group

8) S. Freud - Our Attitude Towards Death

9) On Heidegger's analysis of Death and Dasein:
(a) Alan Paskow - The Meaning of My Own Death
(b) William Smoot - The Social Dimension of Death Anxiety
(c) Kenneth Bryson - Being and Human Death

10) Richard Selzer - The Corpse
(from Mortal Lessons, Notes on the Art of Surgery)

11) Sallie Tisdale - The Sacred and the Dead

12) (a) Kubler-Ross - Talks with Students at Laguna Beach
(b) Kubler-Ross - Playboy Interview on Near Death Experiences
(c) R. Rosenbaum - Critique of Kubler-Ross: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Dead

13) Ernest Becker and Sam Keen - Death Bed Interview

14) The Wisdom of the West (from Great Books of the Western World)
(a) Life and Death
(b) Immortality

15) The Wisdom of the East
(a) Philip Kapleau - The Wheel of Death
(b) Judith Lief - On the Tibetan Book of the Dead
(c) Antonio Wood - Matters of Life and Death
(d) Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche - Karma and Rebirth; On the Tibetan Book of the Dead: Guiding the Dead
(e) Da Free John - Easy Death
(f) Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche - The Tibetan Book of the Dead

16) Animals, Death and Diet
(a) John Robbins - Diet for a New America (sections)
(b) Peter Singer - Ethics and Animals
(c) Harriet Schleifer - Images of Death in Life

17) Orange county: The Cost of Leaving Chart

18) Donald Richie - IKIRU (from The Films of Akira Kurosawa)

19) S. Weimer, F. Lu - IKIRU and personal transformation.