W170-24079 I'm Gonna Live Forever: Contemporary Secular Contructions of Immortality

8:00-8:50am MWF ED 2280 Erwin

Why has the idea of immortality fascinated so many of us for so long? What would it mean to live forever? What does living forever have to do with living a so-called "good life"? In this course, we will analyze a range of competing secular - that is, non- religious - constructions of what immortality might look like. We will not be looking extensively at religious ideas of immortality, but instead will primarily examine the non-religious representations of immortality that exist alongside of the religious beliefs many people hold. Sub-topics will include scientific discussions of immortality, supernatural constructions of immortal figures, popular culture representations of fame as immortality, and discourses of memorialization. Our readings will include a range of articles and book selections, and we will also examine cultural artifacts like television and internet media. Our inquiry in this class will be guided by the following question: What can the various competing secular constructions of immortality tell us about how communities of living people envision their responsibilities to one another, and how do these imagined possibilities for immortality suggest individuals should live, in order to live a good life?