JLGC 02: Death. Ritual, Representation and Remembrance
It is hard to imagine a more universal topic than death. Since the beginning of life, death has been its companion; yet it is always the living that must determine the meaning of life’s elusive and silent counterpart. Remembrance is not just a coping strategy for dealing with a loss of life – commemoration and other cultural expressions connected to death in art and literature reflect a society’s norms, ideals, developments and changes.
- Jacqueline Hylkema, Linda Bleijenberg and Anna Dlabačová, eds.
- 01 February 2014
- Open Access download (PDF)
Death is a defining factor in many aspects of our social interactions and perceptions of the world, and its representation. Its function and status change over time, reflecting societal, cultural and even technological and scientific advancements.
A collection of eight articles written by young scholars from various backgrounds, the second issue of the Journal of the LUCAS Graduate Conference focuses on a particular facet of the universal subject of death. What emerges from the collection of articles presented here is the contrast – sometimes clearly delineated, sometimes blurred and oscillating – between two important modes of dealing with the end of life: the personal, and the pragmatic. Studying a diverse range of media, from death masks and phantasmagoria shows to novels and cultic rituals, the articles bring to light the various agendas death serves. At times these agendas overlap, when an individual’s engagement with death is coopted for aesthetic, religious, and national purposes. Moreover, the variety of forms used to figure death shape these agendas, sculpting versions of death to suit the mourner’s or the culture’s changing perspective on their relationship with the deceased.
Starting with a discussion of children’s photographs and ending with an analysis of the transformation of cultic rituals, this second issue offers an array of insightful case studies concerning the cultural dynamics of death. While leading the reader from the personal and the intimate to the national and the pragmatic, however, this collection also illustrates that the topic of death defies such clear demarcation lines and broad categorizations. In the end, the question remains: where does personal engagement end and where does pragmatism take over?
Series editor and editorial board
Series editor Jacqueline Hylkema (LUCAS) combines her professional experience as an academic editor with considerable organizational skills and has a solid track record in setting up new and innovative projects. After initiating and co-organizing the first LUCAS Graduate Conference, she decided to create a new platform for the publication of the conference’s papers – the result of which is this journal. Her own PhD research focuses on the relationship between rhetoric, the arts, and deception (forgery in particular) in the period between 1600 and 1750. Hylkema specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of Britain, France and the Netherlands in the early modern period, with a particular interest in rhetoric (textual as well as visual), iconography, philology, cultural criticism and the Republic of Letters.
While on the first issue's editorial board, Linda Bleijenberg (LUCAS) has taken care of the journal’s layout, its website and the style sheet. As editor-in-chief of the second issue, she further professionalized the JLGC editing process. Her affinity with graphic design dates from her days as a student of architecture, an artistic discipline she now studies from a scholarly perspective. Her PhD research focuses on the relationship between the concept of the primitive hut, as it emerged in the architectural theory of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and broader cultural phenomena such as primitivism and the eighteenth century fascination with the origins of man, civilization, and a variety of cultural practices.
During the preparations for the first issue, Anna Dlabačová (LUCAS) has proven invaluable as the journal’s head of communication. As editor-in-chief of the second, she continued being the communication centre for all contributors. Dlabačová recently completed a PhD dissertation on the Middle Dutch mystical manual Spieghel der volcomenheit [Mirror of Perfection] written by Hendrik Herp, in which she studies the relationship between fifteenth century religious reform, especially the Franciscan observance, and the production and distribution of religious literature, knowledge and ideas in the Low Countries. Dlabačová is an associate member of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network MITT – Mobility of Ideas and Transmission of Texts, which focuses on the medieval dynamics of intellectual life and literature in the Rhineland and the Low Countries. Within this framework she works on an edition of a Middle High German introduction to Herps Spieghel.
As a co-organizer of the second LUCAS Graduate Conference, Odile Bodde joined the Journal’s editorial board for its second edition. In her PhD project she analyzes the politics and aesthetics of representations of corporeal violence, as shown in contemporary American and European cinema with the ‘war on terror’ as a theme. Its aim is to unravel normative strategies and ideologies surrounding the portrayal of violence, the body, trauma, subjectivity, and agency; to probe the narratives’ multi-faceted strategies of resistance against these very ideologies and sensibilities; and to explore how the images affect and co-constitute the spectator’s subjectivity and self-understanding. Her research is part of the NWO-funded interdisciplinary programme What can the humanities contribute to our practical self-understanding? that takes place at Utrecht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam and Leiden University.
While on the journal's board, our expert in early modern art history Erin Downey was in residence at Leiden University as a Kress Institutional Fellow, to conduct research for her dissertation. Her PhD research focuses on the activities and interactions among Dutch and Flemish artists in Rome in the first half of the seventeenth century, with a particular emphasis on the Bentvueghels, an informal “brotherhood” of northern European artists founded around 1620. Her research further evaluates aspects of migration and cross-cultural transmission, in order to identify the ways in which northern European artists attempted to acclimate and eventually integrate themselves into the cultural fabric of early modern Rome.
As an interdisciplinary specialist in intermedial relations, Janna Houwen (LUCAS) brought her expertise in the fields of literary theory, film studies, media studies and visual art to the editorial board. She is currently completing a dissertation titled As Cain and Abel: The Relation between Film and Video, in which she studies the concepts of mediumspecificity and intermediality. In addition to her research activities, Houwen has taught classes on comparative literature, the word-image conundrum, and media theory at the department of Film and Literary Studies of Leiden University. She is a member of The Netherlands Research School for Media Studies, as well as the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies.
Having a broad interdisciplinary background in social, cultural, and material histories of northwestern Europe from the early Middle Ages through the early Renaissance, Jenneka Janzen is currently preparing a PhD dissertation as a member of the project Turning Over a New Leaf: Manuscript Innovation in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance at LUCAS. Her research focuses on the physical characteristics of books produced at and used by Cistercian monks at Ter Duinen (c.1150-1250) within the context of the abbey’s contemporary intellectual milieu.
After having taught at several universities in the USA, Adrian Lewis is currently affiliated with LUCAS as a PhD candidate. His research focuses on the ego-documents produced by American ambulance drivers in the First World War. In his dissertation, entitled Making Inroads on the Great War: Textuality and Navigation in the Works of American Ambulance Drivers, he argues that the mobile, mediated, and often voyeuristic perspective of the American ambulancier posed a unique rhetorical challenge for recording war, and many of their texts would become important cultural precursors to how the Lost Generation portrayed the war. Much of Lewis’ research has gone into the American autobiography and war literature courses he designed and taught at several American universities, including DePaul and Loyola in Chicago.
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