John Troyer

John Troyer is Director of the Centre for Death and Society and Associate Professor in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath. He grew up in the American funeral industry.

  • Technologies of the Human Corpse

    John Troyer

    The relationship of the dead body with technology through history, from nineteenth-century embalming machines to the death-prevention technologies of today.

    Death and the dead body have never been more alive in the public imagination—not least because of current debates over modern medical technology that is deployed, it seems, expressly to keep human bodies from dying, blurring the boundary between alive and dead. In this book, John Troyer examines the relationship of the dead body with technology, both material and conceptual: the physical machines, political concepts, and sovereign institutions that humans use to classify, organize, repurpose, and transform the human corpse. Doing so, he asks readers to think about death, dying, and dead bodies in radically different ways.

    Troyer explains, for example, how technologies of the nineteenth century including embalming and photography, created our image of a dead body as quasi-atemporal, existing outside biological limits formerly enforced by decomposition. He describes the “Happy Death Movement” of the 1970s; the politics of HIV/AIDS corpse and the productive potential of the dead body; the provocations of the Body Worlds exhibits and their use of preserved dead bodies; the black market in human body parts; and the transformation of historic technologies of the human corpse into “death prevention technologies.” The consequences of total control over death and the dead body, Troyer argues, are not liberation but the abandonment of Homo sapiens as a concept and a species. In this unique work, Troyer forces us to consider the increasing overlap between politics, dying, and the dead body in both general and specifically personal terms.

    • Hardcover $24.95 £20.00

Contributor

  • The Craft of Dying, 40th Anniversary Edition

    The Craft of Dying, 40th Anniversary Edition

    The Modern Face of Death

    Lyn H. Lofland

    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.

    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99