The Routledge Companion to Death and Literature  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Death and Literature

ISBN 9780367619015
Published December 8, 2020 by Routledge
490 Pages

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Book Description

The Routledge Companion to Death and Literature seeks to understand the ways in which literature has engaged deeply with the ever-evolving relationship humanity has with its ultimate demise. It is the most comprehensive collection in this growing field of study and includes essays by Brian McHale, Catherine Belling, Ronald Schleifer, Helen Swift, and Ira Nadel, as well as the work of a generation of younger scholars from around the globe, who bring valuable transnational insights.

Encompassing a diverse range of mediums and genres – including biography and autobiography, documentary, drama, elegy, film, the novel and graphic novel, opera, picturebooks, poetry, television, and more – the contributors offer a dynamic mix of approaches that range from expansive perspectives on particular periods and genres to extended analyses of select case studies. Essays are included from every major Western period, including Classical, Middle Ages, Renaissance, and so on, right up to the contemporary.

This collection provides a telling demonstration of the myriad ways that humanity has learned to live with the inevitability of death, where “live with” itself might mean any number of things: from consoling, to memorializing, to rationalizing, to fending off, to evading, and, perhaps most compellingly of all, to escaping. Engagingly written and drawing on examples from around the world, this volume is indispensable to both students and scholars working in the fields of medical humanities, thanatography (death studies), life writing, Victorian studies, modernist studies, narrative, contemporary fiction, popular culture, and more.

Table of Contents


           PART I Traversing the Ontological Divide
          – Introduction

  1. The Final Frontier: Science Fictions of Death
  2. – Brian McHale

  3. "Still I Danced": Performing Death in Ford’s The Broken Heart
  4. – Donovan Sherman

  5. Death and the Margins of Theatre in Luigi Pirandello
  6. – Daniel K. Jernigan

  7. Forbidden Mental Fruit? Dead Narrators and Characters from Medieval to Postmodernist Narratives
  8. – Jan Alber

  9. Literature and the Afterlife
  10. – Alice Bennett

  11. The Novel as Heartbeat: The Dead Narrator in Mike McCormack’s Solar Bones
  12. – Neil Murphy

  13. Dead Man/and Woman Talking: Narratives from Beyond the Grave
  14. – Philippe Carrard

  15. The View from Upstream: Authority and Projection in Fontenelle’s Nouveaux dialogues des morts
  16. – Jessica Goodman

    PART II Genres
    – Introduction

  17. Big Questions: Re-Visioning and Re-Scripting Death Narratives in Children’s Literature
  18. – Lesley D. Clement

  19. In the U-Bend with Moaning Myrtle: Thinking about Death in YA Literature
  20. – Karen Coats

  21. Death and Mourning in Graphic Narrative
  22. – José Alaniz

  23. Death and Documentaries: Heuristics for the Real in an Age of Simulation
  24. – Benjamin Bennett-Carpenter

  25. Death and the Fanciulla
  26. – Reed Way Dasenbrock

  27. Death, Literary Form, and Affective Comprehension: Primary Emotions and the Neurological Basis of Genre
  28. – Ronald Schleifer

    PART III Site, Space, and Spatiality
    – Introduction

  29. Ecocide and the Anthropocene: Death and the Environment
  30. – Flore Coulouma

  31. A Disney Death: Coco, Black Panther, and the Limits of the Afterlife
  32. – Stacy Thompson

  33. Suicide in the Early Modern Elegiac Tradition
  34. – Kelly McGuire

  35. Institutions and Elegies: Viewing the Dead in W. B. Yeats and John Wieners
  36. – Barry Sheils and Julie Walsh

  37. Death "after Long Silence": Auditing Agamben’s Metaphysics of Negativity in Yeats’s Lyric
  38. – Samuel Caleb Wee

  39. The Spatialization of Death in the Novels of Virginia Woolf
  40. – Ian Tan

  41. "Memento Mori": memory, Death, and Posterity in Singapore’s Poetry
  42. – Jen Crawford

    PART IV Rituals, Memorials, and Epitaphs
    – Introduction

  43. Death and the Dead in Verse Funerary Epigrams of Ancient Greece
  44. – Arianna Gullo

  45. Fictional Will
  46. – Helen Swift

  47. Monumentalism, Death, and Genre in Shakespeare
  48. – John Tangney

  49. Death and Gothic Romanticism: Dilating in/upon the Graveyard, Meditating among the Tombs
  50. – Carol Margaret Davison

  51. Death, Literature, and the Victorian Era
  52. – Jolene Zigarovich

  53. The Aura of the Phonographic Relic: Hearing the Voices of the Dead
  54. – Angela Frattarola

  55. Anecdotal Death: Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets
  56. – Laura Davies

  57. Biography: Life after Death
  58. – Ira Nadel

    PART V Living with Death: Writing, Mourning, and Consolation
    – Introduction

  59. "An immense expenditure of energy come to nothing": Philosophy, Literature, and Death in Peter Weiss’s Abschied von den Eltern
  60. – Christopher Hamilton

  61. Paradox, Death, and the Divine
  62. – Jamie Lin


  63. Inner Seeing and Death Anxiety in Aidan Higgins’s Blind Man’s Bluff and Other Life Writing
  64. – Lara O’Muirithe

  65. Autothanatography and Contemporary Poetry
  66. – Ivan Callus

  67. When Time Stops: Death and Autobiography in Contemporary Personal Narratives
  68. – Rosalía Baena

  69. "Grief made her insubstantial to herself": Illness, Aging, and Death in A. S. Byatt’s Little Black Book of Stories
  70. – Graham Matthews

    PART VI Historical Engagements
    – Introduction

  71. On the Corpse of a Loved One in the Era of Brain Death: Bioethics and Fictions
  72. – Catherine Belling

  73. Death to the Music of Time: Reticence in Anthony Powell’s Mediated Narratives of Death
  74. – Catherine Hoffmann

  75. Death and Chinese War Television Dramas: (Re)configuring Ethical Judgments in The Disguiser
  76. – W. Michelle Wang

  77. Where Do the Disappeared Go? Writing the Genocide in East Timor
  78. – Kit Ying Lye

  79. "Doubtfull Drede": Dying at the End of the Middle Ages
  80. – Walter Wadiak

  81. Urbanization, Ambiguity, and Social Death in Charles Brockden Brown’s Arthur Mervyn

          – Wanlin Li

  42.   Coda

          – Julian Gough

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W. Michelle Wang is Assistant Professor of English at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Daniel K. Jernigan is Associate Professor of English at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Neil Murphy is Professor of English at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.