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The last dance Changing Death Management Practices  A central theme of the course and of your reading for the first examination is change. As you read the first five chapters in THE LAST DANCE pay particular attention to how the American treatment of death changed from 1900 to the present. A key concept of this course is the epidemiology transition, the shift in death from the young to the elderly. Controlling death and confining it to the elderly has impacted society in profound ways. The orphanage, once a fixed feature of our society, has all but disappeared.

Couples who fully expect their children to survive them no longer have large families to insure than an offspring will be around to care for them. More American children have relationships with grandparents (and sometimes great-grandparents) than ever before. Marriages, commonly ended by the death of a spouse in the early 1900s, are more frequently ended by divorce. The death of a child which was once considered commonplace is now viewed as a tragedy.

These are but a few of the changes discussed in your text. As you read the first five chapters make a note of each change discussed so it can be incorporated into your first essay. Your essay should address changes in actual death management practices (such as burial) as well as changes in attitudes toward death. This is not an essay that can be dashed off at the last moment and, to be frank, this is the assignment in which students in the last few sessions did the most poorly. While I will not assign a specific length for the paper, I do expect you to address at least ten or more changes that have taken place since 1900 and I ask that you rely solely on the text to cite the changes. Obviously, the more comprehensive the essay, the higher the grade. In the body of your paper describe a practice, note how it changed from 1900 to the present, and then move to a second practice. This is not a question over cross-cultural practices. Rather, the paper should address how death practices and attitudes in America have changed from 1900 to the present.