University of Bath: University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society reflects on the death of Queen Elizabeth II

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A unique UK research centre focused on the social aspects of death, dying and bereavement, which is based at the University of Bath, will host two events, this week and next, reflecting on the death of Queen Elizabeth II and issues surrounding public memorialisation.

The Centre for Death & Society (CDAS), which was established in 2005 and was the first such research centre of its kind, is a leading voice on issues surrounding death and bereavement. Previously its work has considered topics such as funeral poverty, as well as individual and public responses to grief and bereavement.

CDAS aims to bridge a gap between researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, including funeral organisers. Its website hosts dedicated resources for anyone interested in the social aspects of death and dying. The Centre works with a range of external organisations, including campaigners behind Hospice UK’s ‘Dying Matters’ initiative.

The CDAS events taking place on Friday 16 September and Friday 23 September aim to help untangle questions many of us may have pondered in relation to the death of The Queen last Thursday:

The first, featuring Dr Helen Frisby and Dr Brian Parsons, will consider ‘How does the past inform the present? by reflecting on the history of royal pageantry surrounding the death of a monarch, including ritual in the Georgian and Victorian eras. This takes place via Zoom on Friday 16 September at 12pm (UK time) Sign up to attend.

The second, featuring Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce and Dr Bethan Michael-Fox, will consider what we can learn from media coverage in this period of national mourning and The Queen’s funeral, including the role today of social media in memorialisation. This also takes place via Zoom, on Friday 23 September at 12pm (UK time). Sign up to attend.

Speaking ahead of the talks, CDAS Director Dr Kate Woodthorpe said: “The death of The Queen is an enormous event in history and one that has resonated around the world. A very high-profile public death, such as this, can create a mix of emotions among the public as well as confusion over how and how not to commemorate a life.

“Through these events we want to highlight the impacts of The Queen’s death both in terms of royal pageantry and what we can learn from history, but also how 24/7 news and social media shapes how this is covered. We want to offer people watching an opportunity to ask questions and to generate a deeper discussion about death, dying and bereavement.”

Both events will be held on Zoom with (free) advance registration required. Kate Woodthorpe is also available for media interviews over the course of the next week. She is able to address questions in relation to the social aspects of death, dying and bereavement.

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