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Spring 2000: ASC 183 Issues of Mortality in Cultural Context

Dr. Christian Perring E-mail:
Office Room: 330 A Racanelli Center Class Room: 
Office Hours: T 4.30-5.30 PM Class Hours: T 530-810PM
Office Phone: 631-244-3349 Class Home Page:
Course Links
The Last Dance, Fifth Editionicon
Dying, Death, and Bereavementicon
Objective for this Senior Seminar: This is an interdisciplinary class with an emphasis on student research. You will learn about some different aspects of death and dying in different cultures in the US and around the world. The class will include psychology, anthropology, sociology, history, ethics, philosophy, and medicine. You will also have the opportunity to integrate theoretical perspectives with your own personal experience. This is a seminar, and while I am the seminar leader, it should be a learning experience where we all gain from each otherís knowledge. It is important for you to be ready to enter into discussion about issues with each other, especially when they are controversial. Never simply say "we are all entitled to our own opinions" and leave it at that: a fundamental assumption of this seminar is that we can question each other and should show readiness to question our own beliefs.

For guidelines about my policies concerning written work, late work, make-ups, grading policy, and some terminology, see my guidelines page.


Week Topic Presentation Work to be done Reading
Feb 1 Introduction Outline of course.  Personal Information Sheet to be completed, give preferences for focuses of course.
Feb 8 Grief and Preparing for Death Listen to selections from The Disappearance on the This American Life website.  "Where Words Fail," November 5, 1999, Episode 144.  Real Audio LD Ch 7 & 11; DDB 2
Feb 15 The Funeral Industry Representative of Branch Funeral Home will talk to the class. Test 1 given out LD Ch 8; DDB 5, 27, 32
Feb 29 Organ Transplants and the Definition of Death Organ Transplants and the Definition of Death: Visiting Speaker Journal Due, Test 1 Due LD Ch 5, pp 172-4, Ch 6, pp 211-220, Ch 9, pp 317-320; DDB 8
Mar 7 How We Think About Death Michael Kozlowsky: Death in the Media Test 2 due; Training on using Internet Resources LD chs 1 & 3; DDB 2
Mar 14 Youth and Death: Psychotherapy Kristine Gartner: Teenagers and Death
Marriellen Mattei: Young Children and Death
Kristy Sciortino: Grief Counselors
Journal due LD Ch 10; DDB 9, 10, 31, 33
Mar 21 Science and the Afterlife; Death in Other Cultures Patricia Arenas: Evidence for Life After Death
Michael Capobianco: Egyptian Pyramids
Dave Muse: Death and Mourning in Other Cultures
Test 3 due LD Ch 2 & 14; DDB 15, 29
Mar 28 The Right to Refuse Life-Saving Treatment; Ending One's Own Life Patrick Consalvas: Assisted Suicide in NY: Legal Issues
Rebecca Goldstein: Dr Jack Kevorkian: Hero or Villain?
Maureen Heller: Self-Help in Avoiding Suicide
Karen Walters: Suicide Prevention: How to Help Others
Must finalize paper topic; Journal due LD Ch 5, Ch 6, pp 191-211; DDB 4, 11, 14, 25
Apr 4 Suicide Jean McGrath: Is Suicide Ever Rational?
Tania Nagel: Hospitalizing the Suicidal: Legal and Ethical Issues
Janeen Poska: Suicide Education in Schools and College
Melissa Reynolds: Mass Suicide
Test 4 due; Journal due LD Ch 9 pp 307-317, Ch 12; DDB 13, 17, 18, 26
Apr 11 Other Cultures; Cemeteries John Kent: Death and Mourning in Japanese Culture
Sabrina Stow: Cemeteries on Long Island
Joanne Troyansky: Death and Mourning in Jewish Culture
Paper Draft Due DDB 3, 30
Apr 18 Violence and the Death Penalty Randy Russelewicz: The History of the Death Penalty Journal due
Drafts returned with suggestions for revision
LD Ch 13 
May 2 End of Life Care Noreen Ryan: Nursing Homes and Hospices Test 5 due LD Ch 4; DDB 16, 18, 20
May 9 Journal due
Final paper due

Schedules and Information from Previous Classes of ASC 183