Death is everywhere yet nowhere in Western culture. Corpses litter Hollywood film; the threat of violence propels most mainstream narratives; the recently-recovered or slowly dying make bookshelves groan. But the pain of death, the banality of physical, of undignified, decline, is oddly absent. Visual culture provides an ever more dominating forum for contemporary society's depiction of, and dealings with, death. It provides our main representations of illness or of grief, of wounded bodies or ghosts, of death by stupefying risk, tragic misadventure or unpalatable crime. It offers the most vivid imaginings of what is feared in pre-death, glamourised in the afterlife, and punishable in both-of a morality to mortality.


This multi-disciplinary symposium accompanies a NHS community-based arts initiative called 'Saying the Unsayable: Opening a Dialogue about Living, Dying and Death'.  

Call for papers: Envisaging Death


Professor Christopher Townsend (Royal Holloway) author of Art and Death (2008)



This event is hosted by the Department of American & Canadian Studies & is sponsored by