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Death in Modern Scotland, 1855–1955

Beliefs, Attitudes and Practices

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Edited By Susan Buckham, Peter C. Jupp and Julie Rugg

The period 1855 to 1955 was pivotal for modern Scottish death culture. Within art and literature death was a familiar companion, with its imagined presence charting the fears and expectations behind the public face of mortality. Framing new concepts of the afterlife became a task for both theologians and literary figures, both before and after the Great War. At the same time, medical and legal developments began to shift mortality into the realms of regulation and control. This interdisciplinary collection draws from the fields of art, literature, social history, religion, demography, legal history and architectural and landscape history. The essays employ a range of methodologies and materials – visual, statistical, archival and literary – to illustrate the richness of the primary sources for studying death in Scotland. They highlight a number of intersecting themes, including spirituality and the afterlife, the impact of war, materiality and the disposal of the body, providing new perspectives on how attitudes towards death have affected human behaviour on both personal and public levels, and throwing into relief some of the unique features of Scottish society.
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Acknowledgements

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This book originated with an invitation from Professor Jay Brown, then Chair of the School of Divinity at New College at the University of Edinburgh, to Peter Jupp to become an Honorary Fellow with a brief to organise a conference on death in Scotland. The conference, entitled ‘Death in Scotland, 1855–1955: Beliefs, Attitudes and Practices’, was held at New College, 1–3 February 2013. The conference was deliberately cross-disciplinary, a policy continued in the two subsequent conferences held in 2014 and 2016. This selection of the original conference papers, subsequently revised and peer-reviewed, is a valuable contribution to the growing body of published work within Scottish death studies.

The editors wish to acknowledge the work of the 2013 conference committee: Marion Bowman, Susan Buckham, Peter Jupp, Jean Reynolds and Ronnie Scott. Professor Jay Brown, Dr Elizabeth Cumming and Rosemary Woodroffe WS were particularly helpful in recommending a number of individual speakers and subsequent authors. Committee members and the editors are grateful to the Principal of New College, Professor David Fergusson, and to the School of Divinity, the Cremation Society of Great Britain and Edinburgh Crematorium Ltd for their generous financial support of the conference and this publication. We wish to pay tribute to the anonymous peer reviewers for their insightful and constructive comments. The editors further thank Katherine Walker Brodie and Katherine Riley for specialist help, as well as Dr Lakhbir Jassal, who recommended the project to the book’s publisher, Peter Lang (Oxford). The Peter...

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