Julie-Marie Strange

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199546497
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History


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This article assesses the usefulness of shifting notions of ‘good death’ and discusses the reasons for histories of death pitching science and religion in opposition. It examines the key actors in death scenarios, probing the material culture surrounding death, disposal, and mourning and, more recently, exploring histories of emotion in relation to dying and bereavement. It demonstrates the complex relationship between social and professional organizations, individuals and families. The history of death suggests a linear chronology whereby a sacred and community-centred culture eventually gave way to a privatized and sanitized culture of death. This article explores the legitimacy of this chronology and its implications for understanding attitudes to death in the past.

Keywords: good death; science; religion; chronology; emotion

Article.  8786 words. 

Subjects: History ; Social and Cultural History

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