REL 430

The Politics of Living and Dying

How are living and dying understood in contemporary critical theory and religious studies? In what ways are the lives and deaths of humans and nonhumans governed by economic logics? Whose lives are privileged over others and with what consequences? How are certain bodies made killable and others grievable? How are precarity and vulnerability related to fear and violence? How do we live and die well, and who has this privilege? This seminar interrogates these and other questions with attention to race, gender, species, ability, and other sites of perceived difference. This course asks students to theorize real-world moments of living and dying -- of 'making live' and 'letting die' -- to understand the deeply political nature of life and death as differential moments on a continuum of being. Students can expect to explore pressing contemporary issues such as mass incarceration, solitary confinement and 'civil death;' slavery and commodifying life; end-of-life care and euthanasia; and the role of the visual in torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

Prerequisites: Two courses in Religion