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 Death and Dying in American Culture 



Dr. Katja Schmieder, Leipzig University

The undying fascination with fictional representations of death has its most potent beginning with the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. In "The Philosophy of Composition" he famously linked death with beauty and poesy, but his stories more often develop this topic in a context of morbidity. This is exactly what I am interested in, and I argue that the portrayal of the unnatural and macabre aspects of death rank high among the many achievements of Poe. Today's popular novels and movies about deranged serial killers, dissected bodies, and scientific detection owe their existence to stories like "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," and this workshop seeks to identify and explore the different ways in which fictions on death and morbidity work to scare us “and why we still love to read and watch them."


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