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Funeral Festivals in America: Rituals for the Living

by Jacqueline S. Thursby

Availableweb pdf$30.00x 978-0-8131-4987-5
Availablepaperback$30.00x 978-0-8131-9299-4
Availablecloth$45.00x 978-0-8131-2380-6
Material Worlds
168 pages  Pubdate: 07/11/2014  6 x 9  

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When Evelyn Waugh wrote The Loved One (1948) as a satire of the elaborate preparations and memorialization of the dead taking place in his time, he had no way of knowing how extraordinarily creative and technical human funerary practices would become. Jacqueline S. Thursby explores how modern American funerals and their accompanying rituals seem meant to benefit the living rather than the dead. Funeral Festivals in America suggests that there is an irony in the festivities surrounding death and that the American response to death often develops into an event celebrating the ties between family members and friends. Thursby cites rituals for loved ones separated at the time of death, the frivolities surrounding death, funeral foods and feasts, post-funeral rites and ongoing commemorations, and many other facets of the American way of dealing with death.

Jacqueline S. Thursby is an associate professor in the English department at Brigham Young University.

A fascinating study of American resilience and community spirit at times of bereavement. Jacqueline Thursby reveals with wit and sensitivity how American funerals have become celebrations of life, instead of lamentations of death, at which loved ones mend torn relations through sumptuous banquets, heart-warming memories, and gregarious laughter. She demonstrates with exquisite detail how the restoration of communal ties among the bereaved stands central in contemporary American mortuary rituals, irrespective of their cultural, ethnic, and religious differences." -- Antonius C.G.M. Robben, editor of Death, Mourning, and Burial: A Cross-Cultural

A welcome discussion of the varied rites that surround death in contemporary and historical America. -- Journal of Folklore Research

A large percentage of Americans in modern society are culturally illiterate in community expectations regarding death rituals. Jacqueline S. Thursby's cross-cultural treatment of current practice provides a primer for Americans hoping to respond appropriately when friends from diverse backgrounds and belief systems are in mourning... By placing today's community and family expectations within the context of their own cultural and religious heritages, the monograph is an excellent introduction into funerary literature. -- Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Intriguing. . . . Explores some of the most significant and unique of our methods of dealing with the omnipresence of death in our lives. -- Studies in American Culture