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Death becomes us – stories of the end of life in contemporary literature and culture

Antje Kley (since April 01, 2017)

In frequently uncanny ways, ageing, illness, death, dying, and mourning have been and continue to be both constant companions and threatening future `others´ we have little knowledge of (Eagleton 2003). A growing awareness of death scares people anytime and anywhere, and it intercepts culturally specific convictions supporting individual and collective everyday lives, in particular notions of able-bodied `normal´ life and progress. In modern Western societies, the void of meaning created by illness, ageing, dying, death, and mourning is tentatively covered up by medical and insurance protocols, legally and socially regulated care work as well as self-help markets, and by religious rituals which, even though they have lost their appeal for many, often seem the only ground to fall back on.

Drawing on the internationally growing field of Age and Disability Studies, “Death becomes us” seeks to investigate how, at the intersection of discursive frameworks attempting to administer a future of loss, literary writing and other cultural practices and media, particularly in the US, narratively trade in uncertain and threatening futures under the sign of death.

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Lebenswissenschaftliche Optimierungsdiskurse und soziale Selbstverständnisse in der US-amerikanischen Literatur von der frühen Republik bis in die Gegenwart

Antje Kley (since September 08, 2016)

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