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Emotions generated by celebrity deaths discussed at Durham conference

The ninth Death, Dying and Disposal conference will examine the popular meaning of "public deaths" including those of former pop icon Jackson and ex-reality TV star Jade Goody who both died this year.

Other items under discussion at the four-day event include a debate on the portrayal of death in the Harry Potter series of books and the influence this has on young people's understanding of grief.

The conference, which will take place from September 9 to 12, is being hosted by Durham University's Centre for Death and Life Studies and its Institute of Advanced Studies.

About 200 academics and practitioners from the arts and humanities, social sciences and medicine and palliative care fields will also look at issues including:

Human emotions surrounding woodland burials;

Funeral Pyres: Law & Litigation 1884-2009;

Organ donation and transplantation;

Memorialisation in cyberspace.

All discussions will draw on the overarching theme of the conference which is emotion and identity.

Professor Douglas Davies, Director of the Centre for Death and Life Studies, at Durham University, said: "Death is one of the only certainties in life and is something that affects us all as individuals, families and friends.

"Real deaths like Michael Jackson or fictional deaths, such as portrayed in Harry Potter, can also impact on younger and older generations in ways not always clear.

"Our conference gathers together leading researchers and professionals from across the world to discuss these and other issues so we can understand better the emotions and needs felt by people in times of death and bereavement."


Contact: Leighton Kitson
Durham University

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