Birth and Death in British Culture
Why discuss birth and death when they lie outside discourse, confronting us with experiences that cannot be put into words? And why look at them together when they are so much unlike each other, one the moment of fresh beginnings, joys, and the relative certainties of existence, the other the moment of life's end, grief, and the relative uncertainties of non-existence? Because it turns out that both events, while virtually unrepresentable, have spawned a host of representations, narratives, rites, attempts at making sense of themselves and of making sense of life, the period of human existence they frame. And because they may have more similarities than appears at first sight. The 13 interdisciplinary articles collected in this volume prove that looking at the two phenomena in tandem throws into sharp relief the distinct patterns and functions of each, while also highlighting some of the fundamental historical developments, cultural functions, and socio-political issues shared by both. The contributions take stock of the discourses of birth and death prevalent in British (and Western) culture, probing into the way the two phenomena have been subjected to strategies of medialisation, commodification, and bio-politics.
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