$86 – $107

The History of Death

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$86 – $107

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Artmakers Trust

2 Seddon Road

Hamilton, Waikato 3240

New Zealand

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This series of 8 talks explores, historically, the subject of death from the perspective of several different disciplines.

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COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Sex used to be the great taboo. Up until the modern era, open talk related to the subject of sexuality was actively frowned upon. The subject of death, however was freely canvased. This situation has now been reversed. Death has become for modern men and women the new taboo, spoken of in hushed terms, if at all, kept concealed behind closed doors and largely unacknowledged.

However, recently this trend has been challenged. More and more people are wanting to speak openly about the subject of death. Indeed so pressing has become the need, that within the last few years a new ‘strange’ global phenomena has occurred that has seen the emergence of what are called “Death Cafes.”. These “cafes” are simply pop-up meeting places where small groups of people gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss the topic of death. Death has at last come out of the closet.

This series of 8 lectures explores, historically, the subject of death from the perspective of several different disciplines: religion (both traditional and contemporary), philosophy, art, literature, music and film. At the end of each lecture, a set time will be given over to an “open mike” forum, where people will be able to discuss a singular more experiential death related topic.

COURSE OUTLINE:

•Week 1: Introduction. Overview and sociological perspective: What social/political/intellectual factors were and are at play that have moulded our relation to the topic of death. Historically, how has religion evolved and provided comfort in response to death. We will examine historically examples from Neanderthal man up to and including Christian thinking and everything in between. DISCUSSION: Funeral arrangements. New invented rituals. DIY. Cremation versus burial.

• Week 2: Contemporary theological thought: Why has there come about a shift in religious thinking in the modern age with regard to death. What has happened to Heaven and Hell? The liberal/Fundamentalist culture wars. DISCUSSION: With death in mind, bucket lists.

•Week 3: Western Philosophical Traditions of Death: An examination of the western philosophical tradition beginning with Socrates and ending in the postmodern era with thinkers like Richard Rorty and Jacque Derrida. Why have philosophers gone quiet on the subject of mortality? DISCUSSION: Euthanasia.

•Week 4: Art and Death: A look at how art has represented death over the millenniums, beginning with cave art and tracing its history through all the permutations that take in Michelangelo, Munch, Picasso, Dali and Damien Hurst and many others with their various and different depictions and reactions to death. DISCUSSION: Suicide.

•Week 5: Literature and Death: Beginning with the oldest piece of literature, the Epic of Gilgamesh, we trace the story of how authors have confronted death. Among many works, we will be looking at The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Homer’s Odyssey, the book of Ecclesiastes, the Bhagavad Gita, Plato’s Phaedo, Virgil’s Aeneid, the New Testament, Dante’s Divine Comedy, along with authors such as Shakespeare, Blake, Wordsworth, Arnold, Tolstoy, Hardy, Joyce, Faulkner, Camus, Beckett, DeLillo, Crace, Robinson, Roth and Max Porter. What light do such a diverse range of writers shed on the topic of death? DISCUSSION: Experience with death. Loss of loved ones.

•Week 6: Music and Death: Music over the centuries has played a large part in expressing an emotional response to the experience of death. This lecture will explore various musical genres from classical to pop, from Beethoven, Shostakovich to Bob Dylan, from Jazz to Blues and Rock in order to track not only the changing forms of musical expression, but also the shifts in belief reflected in the music. DISCUSSION: What frightens you about death?

•Week 7: Film and Death: One of the most important cultural influences of the last century would be the advent of film. Beginning with the movie The Phantom Carriage (1921), we will explore this media in order to see how directors have tackled the subject of death and how that has changed over the decades. Included in our examination will be Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Vincent Ward’s What Dreams May Come, and Roy Anderson’s A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, among others. DISCUSSION: Belief in life after death?

•Week 8: Course Summary: A summation of things. What is there left over in our somewhat denuded secular culture to help deal with the tragic? Has the rot set completely in? Can other cultural perspectives add value – Buddhist, Hindu, Māori, neo-pagan, New Age? The return to the stoic virtues. DISCUSSION: How do you feel about ageing? Intimations of mortality.

COURSE DATES AND TIMES: “The History of Death” meets on Wednesdays from 11:00am-1:00pm. Our first class begins on Wednesday 21 October 2020 and runs for 8 consecutive weeks, ending on Wednesday 9 December 2020.

COST for all 8 sessions: Waged: $107; Unwaged: $86. Registering for one class registers you for all eight sessions.

COURSE LECTURER: Peter Dornauf (MA, Dip Tchg) has taught in secondary schools, Wintec and Waikato University collectively for over 25 years. He is a well know Waikato artist, art critic and a writer of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. His book “Days of Our Deaths” serves as the basis for this series of lectures.

COURSE LOCATION(S): Both in-person classes in Hamilton and on-line distance-learning options available for this course, allowing anyone in New Zealand to register. If the time doesn't suit, you also have the option to watch the video recorded sessions to learn at a more convenient time or study at your own pace.

FOR MORE INFO: visit our website at <http://www.earthdiverse.org.nz/classes/>

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Artmakers Trust

2 Seddon Road

Hamilton, Waikato 3240

New Zealand

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Refund Policy

Contact the organiser to request a refund.

Eventbrite's fee is nonrefundable.

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