Cadavers and Cremation: The History, Science, and Ethics of Death

HOUSECS 59.19

Spring 2018

6:00-7:30 PM on Wednesdays, Keohane 4D 201

Death is an inevitable part of human experience, yet few of us think about what will happen to our bodies after we die. In this course, students investigate and discuss the nature and treatment of the dead body and the transformations which it undergoes, physically and ontologically. What constitutes death? When does a “person” become a “corpse”? Where do the cadavers in a gross anatomy lab come from? Who owns a dead body? In taking this course, students will develop an understanding of death and the body that will allow them to think critically about the ethical implications of the medical and nonmedical use of the dead body. Discussions will primarily revolve around historical perceptions and uses of the body, technical scientific practice, and current ethical dilemmas. Readings consist of scholarly articles, contemporary news, medical texts, historical documents, and popular science literature. 

Instructor(s): 
  • Sarah Jacobs,smj43@duke.edu; Jay Zussman, jwz6@duke.edu
Sponsor/Department: 
  • Dr. Jehanne Gheith -- Education
Class Limit: 
18