After Death and Afterlife: The End or Beginning?


Fifth Biennial Bryn Mawr College Graduate Student Symposium

Sponsored by the Graduate Group in Archaeology, Classics and History of Art,

and the Center for Visual Culture


October 7th and 8th, 2005

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Aidan Dodson, University of Bristol  (Department of Archaeology and Anthropology)


Although death is a universal phenomenon, its sequel is deeply mysterious. Is death an absolute end, or is it the beginning of something greater? Every culture and religion supplies its own answers, which are expressed through the treatment of the bodies of the dead and the memorialization of the deceased.  Art, literature, and oral traditions may present more general accounts of death and its aftermath.  Furthermore, concepts associated with the death and afterlife of humans have been used to describe the “life-cycles” of cities, civilizations, and artistic and literary styles. This conference will examine a full range of historical, cultural and critical-theoretical approaches to these topics through papers by graduate students in archaeology, classics, the history of art, and cognate disciplines.

Paper Topics may include (but are not limited to):
  • Mortuary customs and rituals (both sacred and secular)
  • Commemorative monuments/ tombs/ memorials
  • Images, depictions, and literary accounts of death
  • The mythology of death and afterlife
  • Journeys to the Underworld
  • The relationship of death to fertility
  • Sacrifice associated with the dead and implications for the afterlife
  • Heroization, fame after death, and/or canonization
  • Death and rebirth of cities, empires or cultures
  • Rebirth, reconfiguration or transfiguration
  • Stylistic changes and the reuse of past styles
  • The rhetoric of rebirth in the Renaissance
  • Problematics of being-towards-death
Abstracts (250 words maximum) are due May 1, 2005. Please attach a cover page with: name, title, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and contact address.


Send to:  Graduate Student Symposium Committee

Box C 1616

Bryn Mawr College

101 N. Merion Ave.

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010


Or via email at: