IDEALIZED DEATHS – Death Studies Symposium (2016, Finland)

Call for papers

IDEALIZED DEATHS – an international multidisciplinary symposium

University of Jyväskylä, 11th – 12th February 2016

Why are some deaths more admirable than others? Are some causes of death more likely to create a beautiful memory? Do people need the idea of a beautiful death even in the 21st century? What is the meaning of martyrdom in our time? Is the death of a pop star always idealized?

Death studies have a long tradition of mapping various cultures of death and also tracing the changes modernization has caused in our understanding of good death. The idea that death has somehow “disappeared” from Western cultures has been dismissed as outdated: death is everywhere, deaths sells newspapers and internet sites, even if people still have problems talking about it in their own lives. Throughout history deaths have been interesting and important: the way people have died may have been decisive for their fate in the afterlife, not to mention their posthumous reputation. Some causes of death may be considered more beautiful than others; some give the dying person more time to prepare for their death. Tragic deaths touch people’s hearts and may raise the popularity of an artist to new heights.

In this symposium we intend to bring together scholars from various academic disciplines to discuss the topic of idealized death. What makes a death exemplary? Does a certain kind of death add to the legend of an already legendary person? Is dying young always beautiful and idealized? Are all good and beautiful deaths somehow sacrificial? Have some people tried to become immortal, one way or another, by seeking special kind of death?

Possible topics and ideas for abstracts:
– Martyrs and martyrdom in religions
– Death in war
– Sacrificial ideals and death
– Political deaths and martyrs
– Causes of death: tuberculosis, cancer, AIDS
– Suicide and past memorialization
– Rock’n’roll lifestyle and death
– Fandom and memorialization

Keynote speakers will be Dr Paul Middleton, University of Chester, UK and prof. Marja-Liisa Honkasalo, University of Turku, Finland.

The symposium is organized by the Finnish Death Studies Association and the Department of History and Ethnology in association with the Nordic Network of Thanatology.

The symposium fee is 100 euros, covering conference materials and all meals mentioned in the programme (forthcoming). We wish to receive abstracts no more than 300 words by the 15 August 2015 to the address ilona.pajari(at) All inquiries concerning the symposium should also be sent to this address.

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