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February 7th, 2011 by Leo Plaw

The Carnival of Death: Perceptions of Death in Europe and the Americas

Amor Eternal - Laurie Lipton

Amor Eternal - Laurie Lipton

Laurie Lipton is presenting a keynote speech and exhibiting at the Carnival of Death: Perceptions of Death in Europe and the Americas, conference and exhibition.

In the most general terms death is defined as the final and irreversible cessation of the vital functions in an organism, the ending of life. However, the precise definition of death and the exact time of the transition from life to death differ according to culture, religion and legal system.

The essential insecurities and doubts over the nature and state of death have affected cultural production since the beginning of civilization. Likewise our attitude towards death is characterised by anxieties and ambiguities. ‘On the one hand the horror of death drives us off, for we prefer life; on the other an element at once solemn and terrifying fascinates us and disturbs us profoundly,’ writes George Bataille. Death can be ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished’ to say it with Hamlet, or ‘a wonderful gain’ to quote Schopenhauer. But while philosophers and poets explore the dark attraction of death, in everyday life we push all thought of it aside. Death, and above all our own death, must not impinge upon the living.

This conference sets out to look at death in the contemporary world and how changes in society since the turn of the 19th century have affected our perceptions of death. It consists of three broad themes which interconnect with each other: Death and Desire; Death and Power; and Rituals and Customs.

Conference and Exhibition dates: 24-26 Feb 2011
Venue: Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study
Keynote speakers: Briony Campbell, Paul Preston, Laurie Lipton

The exhibition is free and open to all.
Opening times: Thursday & Friday, 9am – 6pm, Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Venue: Jessel Room, Senate House South Block, University of London
Artists: Colette Copeland, David Glyn, Erik and Rune Eriksson, Spiros Jacovides, Laurie Lipton, Matt Rowe, Sarah Sparkes

Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies
Senate House
University of London
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 20 7862 8677
Web: igrs.sas.ac.uk

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