The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains

Work Of The Dead

2018 Prize in Humanities

by Thomas W. Laqueur
Publisher: Princeton University Press
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Jury Statement

The dead matter to us; they always have. But, as Thomas W. Laqueur demonstrates in The Work of the Dead, why and how the dead matter has changed over time. Subtitled A Cultural History of Mortal Remains, this fascinating book transcends a focus on any one country, state, people, or historical moment to consider how and why the living have cared for the dead from antiquity through the twentieth century. In clear and graceful prose, Laqueur examines his subject matter through lenses that are at times anthropological, historical, and philosophical in nature. The depth and breadth of his scholarship are particularly noteworthy.  A monumental achievement, The Work of the Dead contains a vast reservoir of historical information and insights regarding cultural practices surrounding the treatment of the dead that scholars from many disciplines will draw upon for years to come.

About the Author

Laqueur Thomas 2016

Thomas W. Laqueur is Helen Fawcett Professor of History at the University of California Berkeley.

2018 Final Jury

James Chandler
Barbara E. & Richard J. Franke Distinguished Service Professor and Director of the Franke Institute for the Humanities
University of Chicago

William Donahue
John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C. Professor of the Humanities
University of Notre Dame

Dennis Doordan
Professor of Architecture and Design and Associate Dean of Research, Scholarship, and Creative Work in the School of Architecture
University of Notre Dame

Heather Dubrow
John D. Boyd, S.J. Chair in the Poetic Imagination
Fordham University

Mark Lilla
Professor of Humanities
Columbia University