Death and the Afterlife: Global Perspectives

Course Code: HUMA 255

Academic Year: 2023-2024

Death is inevitable, yet we know so little about it. What happens to us when we die? Are we dead when our heart stops or when our brain dies? Is there life after death and, if so, what is it? How should we confront the fact that we die? Is there an appropriate way to mourn and commemorate the dead? This course examines how intellectual and religious traditions from around the world explain death and envision the "life to come." Topics include: death in TV and film; accounts of the biology of death and dying; philosophical responses to death; arguments for and against immortality; the multibillion-dollar death industry; understandings of heaven, hell, and reincarnation in different religious traditions; Chinese conceptions of the "Tao"; a variety of funeral rites from around the world; and accounts of so-called "near-death experiences."