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Death Studies Research Workshop

hands reaching out

Image above: Angela Lopez, Lift Through (detail), photo collage, 2014,

The Death Studies research workshop provides a space for Northwestern scholars and students interested in the human encounter with death and recognizing death as a universal and important part of the human experience.

We are interested in living with death.

About us

We offer a two-year long series of events (2021-2023) with Northwestern members to share their research intersecting with death, dying, and mortality including colloquia, informal reading groups, and field trips to Chicago-area institutions.

By allowing for those interested in death studies to share their research and experiences with each other, the workshop will explore ways in which death and dying are understood by different religions and cultures; bereavement and loss, particularly factors affecting the experience and expression of grief; death attitudes and education; historical and current approaches to death rituals and mourning practices; attitudes toward final disposition, particularly relative to environment and urban planning; the relationship between changes in the material contexts of mortality and social responses to it; the role of death in ethical self-fashioning; and relationships between the dead and the living. With our close temporal proximity to the COVID-19 pandemic—whether we are or are not on the other side of this global tragedy—this workshop will build community across the university not only for its scholars and practitioners, but to address a growing public interest in mortality and death experience.

Join us

Who should apply to be a member?

Faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students are all invited to join this research workshop. Participants have come from the following disciplines: anthropology, art history, art theory and practice, bioethics, history, literature, medical humanities, medical education, philosophy, psychology, religion, and more.

Why apply to be a member?

Research and practices around death can create community; indeed, they typically require a community of people. This workshop will strengthen connections between departments, between the Evanston and Chicago campus, between death theory and praxis, between the Kaplan Humanities Institute and Feinberg’s Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities. It provides a way for the Northwestern and Chicago-area community to ask what it is to live with death, accessing interdisciplinary approaches that transcend typical degree boundaries. By attending the events of this workshop, participants will meet and get to know the research of fellow members of their community. These connections can often lead to research collaborations.

How to apply

We encourage interested parties to apply to the research workshop, though it is not required to participate in our events. To participate, you can complete the form at this link or contact Mel Keiser at

Upcoming events, news, and resources

All events are free and open to the public and we welcome participants from all over.

There are no upcoming events at this time.

Death Studies in the news

Stories recommended by our members. New stories will be added occasionally, so visit often!


The Flesh-Eating Beetles of Chicago's Field Museum

(from Atlas Obscura)

mask-painted-with-human-blood-200x100.jpg1,000-Year-Old Mask Was Painted With Human Blood

(from Smithsonian Magazine, 10/29/21)

why-the-vampire-myth-wont-die-200x100.jpgWhy the Vampire Myth Won’t Die

(from The New York Times, 10/30/21)


More news stories:

Who to contact

Please contact research workshop convener, Mel Keiser (listed below), with questions about the workshop.

Mel Keiser
Independent Artist / Kaplan Institute Artist in Residence Spring 2021


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