DIRGE LECTURE SERIES: Draw Nigh: Approaching Death in a Culture of Immortality

April 3, 2014 / 6:00pm

Presented by Brandy Schillace, PhD


When it comes to morbidity, we live in a culture of contradiction: extending life through medical intervention but restricting, even pathologizing grief and death rituals. Between these poles, we face the reality of our mortality and a need for closeness and closure. In this talk, medical humanist, literary scholar, and Gothic fiction author, Dr. Brandy Schillace explores two related questions: How do we approach death? And in what ways are materials—the thing-ness of life—part of our grieving process? Reflecting on the artworks in DIRGE and also upon history, anthropology, and medical humanities, Dr. Schillace will attempt to ‘draw us nigh.’
This talk is part of The End, Reconsidered: A Lecture Series on Mortality
In conjunction with DIRGE: Reflections on (Life +) Death, MOCA Cleveland is hosting four lectures that examine mortality from particular vantage points – social work, history, medicine, and spirituality. The programs feature experts who will deliver original scholarship and discuss personal experiences that inform their progressive work in mortality. In concert with the exhibition, the series will examine new philosophies on, and applied practices to “the end,” as well as consider how these methods shift our experience and understanding of life. 
Brandy Schillace, PhD, spends her time in the mist-shrouded alleyways between medical history and literature. Guest curator at the Dittrick Museum of Medical History of Case Western Reserve University, Dr. Schillace studies topics ranging from Romantic poetry to reproductive technology to narrative expressions of disease. For her lecture at MOCA Cleveland, Schillace will reinterpret numerous works in the exhibition through the lens of death rituals and objectification in the 18th and 19th centuries. Connecting contemporary artistic expression to earlier social death practices, Schillace will draw out differences and, surprisingly, some similarities in cultural ethos about mortality over centuries.
Sponsored by The Andrew Dempsey Memorial Fund

The Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities
Cleveland Clinic
With community support from Hospice of the Western Reserve and the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Science 
This program, is made possible, in part, by the Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of National Endowment for the Humanities.