Death & Dying
Tuesday/Friday 12:30pm – 2:20pm
Office: Crocker 109
Office Hours: Mon/Wed 10:30 – 12:30
Phone: (508) 626-4864
This course will help you see what truly matters in life. It aims to enable you to clarify your future endeavors in college and beyond. Ironically, exploring the various ways people understand and respond to the realities of death and dying is a great way – perhaps the best way – to achieve these all-important goals. The course gives students a forum for discussing a series of topics that are often taboo to talk about elsewhere. We consider these topics within the context of American society as well as cross-culturally and across religious traditions.
There is one book to purchase from the campus bookstore; it can also easily be found used online:
Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
All other readings are linked below on the syllabus.
*Please bring assigned readings to class. For those that are online, either print them or access them electronically in class via your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
As a way of facilitating rich class discussions, you are to post a reading response on Blackboard in advance of most of our class meetings. The dates when a reading response is due are listed on the schedule below.
Please post no later than 7am on the due date. I will only give credit for posts made on time. Your posts should have two parts:
- A 1-2 paragraph critique of the reading. A critique is not a summary. Whereas a summary just goes over the main points in the reading, a critique goes beyond what the reading says and highlights interesting themes or issues it raised for you. There are a variety of ways you can frame your critique:
— Something you found interesting and why.
— Something you found confusing and why.
— An important topic left unexplored.
— Strengths/weaknesses of a study’s methodology.
— How a concept or idea applies to your own life.
- Raise 2 or more questions for our class discussion. These should not be “yes/no” questions. Instead, come up with “how” or “why” questions since these typically generate more discussion.
I understand sometimes there are justifiable reasons for missing a class, but if you miss more than two it will start to affect your grade. If you have to be absent, there is no need to give me a doctor’s note. It is your responsibility to catch up on material you missed.
GRADING AND EVALUATION:
Your final grade will be based on the following:
Given the Sociology Department’s commitment to maintaining the highest academic standards, students should be aware of the University’s policies concerning academic honesty, which are stated in the undergraduate catalog: “Integrity is essential to academic life. Consequently, students who enroll at Framingham State University agree to maintain high standards of academic honesty and scholarly practice. They shall be responsible for familiarizing themselves with the published policies and procedures regarding academic honesty.” Infractions include plagiarism, cheating on exams and quizzes, unauthorized collaboration with other students, and submitting work in more than one course for academic credit without prior approval of the instructor. The FSU Catalog defines plagiarism as “claiming as one’s own work the published or unpublished literal or paraphrased work of another.” Penalties for academic dishonesty may include receiving a failing grade for the course, academic suspension, and dismissal from the University.
COMING TO GRIPS WITH A TABOO SUBJECT
Friday, September 4th
Tuesday, September 8th
*READ: Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Chapters 1-2 from On Death and Dying. New York: MacMillan, 1969. (NOTE: This reading may appear sideways on your screen. The only way I know to fix this is if you first save the reading to your laptop and then open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader. Once you have opened it, click “View”, then scroll down to “Rotate View” and then click “Counterclockwise.”)
*READING RESPONSE #1 DUE
Friday, September 11th
*READING RESPONSE #2 DUE
Tuesday, September 15th
No class – Rosh Hashanah
Friday, September 18th
*WATCH IN CLASS: “Beyond Closure”
Tuesday, September 22nd
*READING RESPONSE #3 DUE
THE QUEST FOR IMMORTALITY
Friday, September 25th
*WATCH IN CLASS: “Flight from Death: The Quest for Immortality”
Tuesday, September 29th
*READING RESPONSE #4 DUE
Friday, October 2nd
*READING RESPONSE #5 DUE
Tuesday, October 6th
*READING RESPONSE #6 DUE. *Click here for specifics.
RITUALIZED RESPONSES TO DEATH & DYING
Friday, October 9th
*READING RESPONSE #7 DUE
Tuesday, October 13th
*READ: Ronny E. Turner and Charles Edgley, “Death as Theater: A Dramaturgical Analysis of the American funeral.” Pp. 285-97 in Life as Theater, Edited by Dennis Brisset and Charles Edgley. New York: Aldine, 1976.
*WATCH IN CLASS: “Life That Doesn’t End With Death”
*READING RESPONSE #8 DUE
Friday, October 16th
*READING RESPONSE #9 DUE
Tuesday, October 20th
*READING RESPONSE #10 DUE
WORKING WITH THE DYING AND THE DEAD
Friday, October 23rd
*WATCH IN CLASS: “Being Mortal”
*READING RESPONSE #11 DUE
Tuesday, October 27th
*READING RESPONSE #12 DUE
Friday, October 30th
*WATCH: “The Undertaking”
*READING RESPONSE #13 DUE
Tuesday, November 3rd
*READ: David H. Wendleton, Therese A. Johnson, and Renee S. Katz, “Caregiving of the Soul: Spirituality at the End of Life.” Pp. 27-38 in When Professionals Weep: Emotional and Countertransference Responses in End-of-Life Care. New York: Routledge, 2006.
*READING RESPONSE #14 DUE
Friday, November 6th
*DO: Interview someone who works with the dying and/or the dead. *Click here for specifics.
*READING RESPONSE #15 DUE.
Tuesday, November 10th / Friday, November 13th
No class – I will be away
RELIGIOUS INTERPRETATIONS OF DEATH & DYING
Tuesday, November 17th
Oral presentations about:
Friday, November 20th
Oral presentations about:
Tuesday, November 24th
Oral presentations about:
Friday, November 27th
No class – Thanksgiving break
REAFFIRMING LIFE IN THE FACE OF DEATH
Tuesday, December 1st
*READ: Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Read up through “The Professor”
Friday, December 4th
*READ: Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie. Finish book.
*WATCH IN CLASS:
Tuesday, December 8th
*WATCH IN CLASS: “Sam Berns, My Philosophy for a Happy Life”
Friday, December 11th
*WATCH IN CLASS: “My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech”
Tuesday, December 15th
Monday, December 21st