The Craft of Dying, 40th Anniversary Edition
The Modern Face of Death
168 pp., 5 x 8 in, 3 tables
- Published: April 23, 2019
- Published: March 29, 2019
The fortieth-anniversary edition of a classic and prescient work on death and dying.
Much of today's literature on end-of-life issues overlooks the importance of 1970s social movements in shaping our understanding of death, dying, and the dead body. This anniversary edition of Lyn Lofland's The Craft of Dying begins to repair this omission. Lofland identifies, critiques, and theorizes 1970s death movements, including the Death Acceptance Movement, the Death with Dignity Movement, and the Natural Death movement. All these groups attempted to transform death into a “positive experience,” anticipating much of today's death and dying activism.
Lofland turns a sociologist's eye on the era's increased interest in death, considering, among other things, the components of the modern “face of death” and the “craft of dying,” the construction of a dying role or identity by those who are dying, and the constraints on their freedom to do this. Lofland wrote just before the AIDS epidemic transformed the landscape of death and dying in the West; many of the trends she identified became the building blocks of AIDS activism in the 1980s and 1990s. The Craft of Dying will help readers understand contemporary death social movements' historical relationships to questions of race, class, gender, and sexuality and is a book that everyone interested in end-of-life politics should read.
Lofland makes a strong case that, like feminism, death acceptance movements should be seen as waves, building and course-correcting on previous attempts at reform. The Craft of Dying is necessary context for any death historian.
Caitlin Doughty, Founder of The Order of the Good Death and author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
Lofland's brilliant insights have not dated in forty years. Essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the death awareness movement and how it promotes certain kinds of dying and grieving.
Tony Walter, Emeritus Professor of Death Studies, University of Bath and author ofThe Revival of Death