1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Death and Literature

Edited By Michelle Wang, Daniel Jernigan, Neil Murphy Copyright 2021
    490 Pages
    by Routledge

    490 Pages
    by Routledge

    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.


               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


    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.


    "This is a long overdue compendium that covers topics pertaining to death in literature and death and the literary arts from the classical to postmodern and everything between. I highly recommend this 'companion' for scholars at any stage of their studies and general readers whether their interests lie with a specific period, genre, or specialized topic such as medical humanities, death and sleep, trauma, the post-human, and much, much more." --Lesley D. Clement, Lakehead University-Orillia