I’m back this semester teaching Death and Human Remains in Public History for a second time! The first time I taught it, I wrote about some of the work we did in that class – you can read about that here.
The syllabus is available embedded below, and the full readings list is below that!
I always have people ask for more information about the class, so this year I’ve made the list of readings and topics available here for anyone to follow along!
Readings and Schedule for Spring 2023
Available online at this link.
Readings for Death and Human Remains in Public History
Book: From Here to Eternity, Caitlin Doughty
- Public History
What is Public History?
Today we are focusing on the field of Public History and what it is. You have 2 links to browse, and 2 short chapter PDFs to read before class.
- Browse – National Council on Public History Website
- Browse – What is Public History?
- Lyon et al, Introduction to Public History, Chapter 1, “Introducing Public History” [20 pages] – On Moodle
- Doughty, Caitlin, From Here to Eternity – Introduction (though page 15) – Textbook
- Death Studies
All about the field of Death Studies
This section is incredibly interdisciplinary – as is the field of death studies. We will delve into sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, public history, and many other fields (as we will throughout the class!)
- Tony Walter, Pervasive Death – on JSTOR (log in required, PDF below)
- “Thanatology” – This source with definitions and info, but not a good academic source (no real citations, but the basic info is good) https://allstarce.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Thanatology.pdf
- Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjQwedC1WzI&
- Tony Walter, The Sociology of Death (PDF below, on JSTOR through the library)
- The Order of the Good Death, About – http://www.orderofthegooddeath.com/about
- Browse: The Order of the Good Death website – http://www.orderofthegooddeath.com
- Browse: About the Centre for Death and Society at University of Bath – https://www.bath.ac.uk/corporate-information/about-the-centre-for-death-society/
3. History of Death and Dying
- Doughty, Caitlin, From Here to Eternity: “Colorado”
- David San Filippo Ph.D., “Historical Perspectives on Attitudes concerning Death and Dying” – https://digitalcommons.nl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1028&context=faculty_publications
- Thomas Lacquer, “A Brief History of Death, Review” – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/24/brief-history-death-wm-spellman-review
- Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aBhT3ItQeI
- Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aE0RZCA8Oc4
4. Museums and Historic Places; Acquisition, Conservation, and Display of the Dead and items of Death (war trophies, weapons, material culture)
Reminder!! This week we have our first Case Studies! Case Study Notes 1 assignment due BEFORE Class on Wednesday
- Charlotte Coates, “What do Museums Have to Do with Death and Dying?” – https://www.museumnext.com/article/what-do-museums-have-to-do-with-death-and-dying/
- Chip Colwell, “As Native Americans We are in the Constant State of Mourning” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/opinion/can-museums-heal-historys-wounds.html (PDF Below)
Wednesday Case Studies:
- Charles Byrne, Hunterian Museum
- Julia Pastrana, Reburied, Mexico/Traveling
- Carol Orzel and Harry Eastlack, Mutter Museum
- William Burke and William Hare, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh
- Clonycavan and Old Croghan Man, National Museum Ireland
- Grover Krantz, Smithsonian
- Ishi, Berkeley/Hearst Museum
- Ramses II, Traveled/Grand Egyptian Museum
- Robert Kennicott, Smithsonian
- Ancient One/Kennewick Man, Reburied, Burke Museum
5. A history of Humans Remains on Display in Museums and Heritage Sites (from freakshows to NAGPRA and beyond)
Reminder!! Preliminary Project Proposal Due Sunday
Readings for Monday:
- Doughty, Caitlin, From Here to Eternity: “Bolivia: La Paz”
- Sam Redman, When Museums Rushed to Fill their Rooms with Bones https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/when-museums-rushed-fill-their-rooms-bones-180958424/
- Katie Clary, Human Remains and Museums, in History News (PDF Below)
Readings for Wednesday:
- Katie Clary, Legacy of the Dime Museum, in History News (PDF Below)
- Not required, but if you’re interested in reading more about the mummy Neskhons, who I mentioned in class Tuesday, I wrote a piece for Mummy Stories about him available here: https://www.mummystories.com/single-post/KatieStringerClary
- And also this one on a case study we will discuss on Thursday: https://www.mummystories.com/single-post/katiestringerclary2019.
- (Sorry to be that person assigning their own work to their students, but at least it is free!!)
6. Death and Museums
Death and Museums: Displaying (or not?) the Dead and Death Education at Museums and Heritage sites
- National Geographic, “This Museum Tries to Make Death Seem Less Frightening” – PDF Below or Link here.
Tuesday Film: Black Mirror: Black Museum
- Complete the worksheet below for the film – if you complete this at home, please email it to me, if you are in class, I will hand it out and collect it there.
Thursday: Wrap up human remains in museums, talk about programs about death in museums.
7. Haunted Places
Haunted Places & People: The Impact of the Living on the Spaces of the Dead (historic preservation, destruction of historic places, pros/cons)
- Colin Dickey, Introduction to Ghostland (PDF Below)
- National Trust for Historic Preservation, “Seeking Spooks and Spectres” https://savingplaces.org/stories/seeking-spooks-and-specters-ghost-hunting-with-jamie-pearce#.YUuJlC-ZPBI
- A blog I wrote almost 10 years ago that I should probably revisit: https://katiestringerclary.com/2012/10/30/ghosts-and-historic-sites/
- Another old blog, but still relevant! https://katiestringerclary.com/2013/11/24/when-ghost-hunting-and-history-go-bad/
Ghosts and Place: How do these places use their ghost stories for programs, education, tourism, other ways? Do they seem to embrace it? Hide from it? Allow Ghost Hunting shows? etc. Who are their supposed ghosts? What evidence is there for them?
1. Tower of London, UK
2. Gettysburg, PA
3. Davenport House Museum, Savannah, GA
4. The Witch House, Salem, MA
5. Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
6. Stanley Hotel, Colorado
7. Winchester Mystery House, California
8. Whaley House, San Diego
9. Myrtles Plantation, Louisiana
8. Dark Tourism
Dark Tourism: Serial Killers, Mass Murder, and Disaster History and the Public
- Doughty, Caitlin, From Here to Eternity: “Indonesia: South Sulawesi”
- The Darker Side of Travel, Intro; PDF Below
- Dark Tourism Explained; PDF Below: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/travel/dark-tourism-explainer/
- The Disaster Zone of Netflix’s Dark Tourist – https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/07/the-disaster-zone-of-netflixs-dark-tourism/565946/ (PDF Below)
9. Public and Dark Tourism
Dark Tourism and Public Engagement:Asylums, Plantations, Hospitals, and Sites of Mass Death as Tourist Destinations(balancing historical interpretation and sensitivity to the dead)
- The worst day of my life is now New York’s hottest tourist attraction – PDF below – https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/stevekandell/the-worst-day-of-my-life-is-now-new-yorks-hottest-tourist-at
- Dark tourism memorial sites – PDF Below https://theconversation.com/dark-tourism-memorial-sites-will-help-us-heal-from-the-trauma-of-coronavirus-139164
LISTEN (34 minutes) –
Case Study Group Presentations 3
Dark Tourism Case Studies: What is the dark history here? What types of tours or programs are available? Why do you think people want to go here? What is the appeal? Would you visit? What do you think of this place as a tourist attraction? What are some struggles the site has had because of dark tourism? Benefits?
1. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, West Virginia
2. Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
3. Alcatraz East – Museum, Pigeon Forge, TN
4. Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Louisville
5. Paris Catacombs
6. Killing Fields, Cambodia
7. Pompeii, Italy
8. Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin
9. East End of London – Jack the Ripper
10. Lizzie Borden House, Massachusetts
10. Public Consumption of Death and Human Remains in Popular Culture:M ummies, Zombies, and what they say about the living
- Flirting with the Dark Side – PDF Below
- DEATH, DYING, AND THE DEAD IN POPULAR CULTURE – PDF Below
- The Tragic, Forgotten History of Zombies
- Desecration and romanticisation – the real curse of mummies
11. Death and Religious Spaces: Churches, Cemeteries, and Relics
- Doughty, Caitlin, From Here to Eternity: “Mexico: Michoacan”
- When is it okay to dig up the dead? PDF Below
Thursday: Group Case Studies
DO NOT other these groups – remember to be respectful in your analysis and not fall into the Dark Tourist trap!
What is the religion associated with your case study? What are the beliefs surrounding the use of human remains and/or death? How are they used? Where did the remains come from? What do you think the dead would think about their role in the religious practices?
- Capuchin Monastery in Italy
- Kunta Hora Bone Church in Czech Republic
- Oliver Plunkett in Drogheda, Ireland and Saint Valentine’s Skull in Rome
- Palo Mayombe, Afro-Cuban Rituals
- Huron-Wendat Feast of the Dead (be especially careful about analyzing sources for bias!)
- Tibetan Buddhist Sky Burials – kapala (skullcap) kept back
- Buddhist Corpse Meditation
12. Archives, Tech, and Death
- Doughty, From Here to Eternity, “Japan”
- Microsoft patented a chatbot that would let you talk to dead people.
- The Jessica Simulation:Love and loss in the age of A.I.
- The digital afterlife industry is here to help you plan your death
- How a Dead University Professor is teaching his Art History class
Film: Black Mirror: Be Right Back