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Thanatology 2200- Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 35 pages long!)


Department
Thanatology
Course Code
THAN 2200
Professor
Darcy Harris
Study Guide
Final

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Western
Thanatology 2200
FINAL EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Unit OneIntroduction to Thanatology
So, welcome to the study of death! Your friends and family may wonder why you registered for this
courseand you may wonder this same as we go along. However, most people who devote themselves
to the study of death, dying, and bereavement say that they do not find it to be a morbid interest, but a
life-affirming endeavor.
It has ee said that e do’t truly egi to lie util e erae the fat that e are goig to die. I
our society, death is seen as a failure of technology, something that only happens to people who are old
or ho are ill, ad it alays happes to soeoe else. We see eets that deal ith death ad loss
covered through various online media outlets and mainstream news programming. These events and
the images that we see in popular media about them do have an impact upon us, but it is often easy to
distract ourselves into our interests, commitments, and social life.
Many of you are taking this class because of your own personal experiences with death or loss. I hope
this class is helpful to you as well, although you might find some of the material hard to absorb if you are
in a place of raw grief. Please remember that this is a University course, and although we welcome
sharig ad disussio, e a’t use the lass ad the disussios for processing of personal material. If
you find you need to talk about what comes up for you while you are taking the class, please contact me
and I will do my best to help you find good supportive resources.
In the meantime, I wish to welcome you all to this course. I look forward to sharing ideas with you and
to a ogoig disussio aout all thigs death i this year!
Practical Notes:
For every hour of lecture in a university class, you are expected to spend the same amount of time
outside of class doing the readings and assignments. So, if our class is a 3-hour lecture course, that
works out to 6 hours per week for this class doing the readings, coming to class, and completing the
assignments that are required. If you are taking a full course load of 5 courses per term, that would work
out to 15-20 hours of class time and 15-20 hours of time outside of class to complete the required work
associated with the course. Thus, a full course load is about the same as a full-time job in terms of time
commitment. Readings and assignments are designed to help you to learn the material and demonstrate
your learning from different perspectives and ways of engagement. They are important and not just
ake ork projets! The readigs assiged for this ourse are well within these time allotments, as
log as you keep up ith the readigs o a eekly asis. We o’t oer all the aterial i the readigs
in class, so you need to make some notes and I encourage you to bring questions and comments about
the readings into the classroom each week.
Lecture notes for unit one:
We live with the idea of limited resources every day—e ko that e do’t hae a edless aout of
time, money, fuel, etc., but we rarely consider that life itself is a limited resource. We tend to view death
as ufair ut i reality it is either fair or ufair—e die hether e desere to die or ot. I this
regard, death is the great leeler.
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Our current western culture is greatly influenced by the media.
What are some depictions of death in the media (T.V., movies, sitcoms, etc.)?
Cartoonsnobody really dies
Moviesdeath often romanticized or seen as something to be overcome if you are strong
enough
“oe T.V. progras take a ore detahed ie or a ore liial ie—such as C.S.I. or
Bones. Other programs, such as Dexter, utilize death as the backdrop for entertainment
purposes. In these programs, characters teach us to become numb to the personal implications
of death.
We will have an entire unit devoted to death and grief in popular media, but you can already be
thinking about how death and grief are portrayed in these venues.
Changes in contemporary Western society over the past 100 years have resulted in a
reduced exposure to death, creating a need for formal death education. However, there
are only a few comprehensive courses dealing with death and bereavement that have
been developed at the University level. Thanatology 2200 is one of these few courses
that have been designed to offer formal death education. This course is presented in the
context of a liberal arts education and as such, focuses on gaining an understanding of,
as well as an ability to think critically and analytically about the topics that are
presented.
The media now tends to influence our society and culture more than formal religious education, which
had more influence in the past. There is less religious education now than in the past, and that was
typically where exposure to death-related themes was discussed.
Current views of death as presented by the media:
1. There is the prospect of mass deathimages of natural disasters such as hurricanes,
earthquakes, floods, and fires appear on T.V. with regularity.
2. More exposure to violenceimages of war, atrocities, homicides, violent uprisings, school
shootings, etc.
3. Death is seen with interest, vicariously from media exposure, at a distance. It happens to
someone else who is less fortunate and death is catastrophic.
Examples of how our attitudes about death have changed: The story of Little Red Riding Hood and the
various outcomes
In the early versions, Little Red Riding Hood is eaten by the wolf and dies.
In later versions, Little Red Riding Hood is eaten by the wolf and a hunter comes in with an axe
and opens the wolf up letting Little Red Riding Hood escape.
In the modern version, Little Red Riding Hood is about to be eaten by the wolf and a hunter
shoots him with a gun before he can eat her.
Factors that have influenced our mortality patterns and therefore, our view of death and how death
has been viewed over time:
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