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DATE: April 19, 2004

"Graveyards 101" lecture series open to the public at UM-Dearborn

DEARBORN---Four University of Michigan-Dearborn faculty members will lecture on "graveyards, gravestones and images of death" in a four-week series of talks in May and June.

All of the lectures will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evenings from May 12 to June 2 in Room 1030 in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Building on the UM-Dearborn campus. The lectures are free and open to members of the community.

Profs. Jacqueline Vansant and Ronald Stockton toured Detroit's Woodmere Cemetery this month, preparing for their lecture series called Graveyards 101.

The series was planned to offer "entertainment and education for the public," according to political science Prof. Ronald Stockton who organized the series. In addition, enrolled students can receive one credit hour for attending the lectures, completing readings and writing a paper for the course. Students will also participate in a tour of some local graveyards.

Stockton became interested in the topic when he began surveying a graveyard in southern Illinois where his relatives have been buried since the mid-1800s. In the process, he discovered some historically significant trends in the population in the region, and wrote a scholarly article called "Death on the Frontier."

Stockton will speak on June 2 on "Images of Death in Comparative Perspective." Other speakers are history Prof. Elaine Clark on "Death and Dying in Pre-Modern Europe" on May 12; humanities Prof. Jacqueline Vansant on "Death in Vienna" on May 19; and humanities Prof. Randal Woodland on "The New Orleans Way of Death" on May 26.

"I've always been interested in cemeteries and what they say about a community and a culture," Vansant said. "The ceremonies and rituals surrounding death have played an important role in Austrian society, and in Vienna there are so many fascinating ways to examine the society through this particular viewpoint."

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