Profile: Tony Walter

Professor of Death Studies

I was a freelance writer for many years, before becoming Lecturer, then Reader, in Sociology at the University of Reading 1994-2007.
In the mid-1980s, I wrote three books on unemployment and social security, but over the past twenty years I have focused on researching, writing and lecturing on death in modern society, e.g. funerals, afterlife beliefs, personal bereavement and public mourning, human remains in museums, new discourses of spirituality, death in the news media and in online social media.
I have helped promote the interdisciplinary study of death and society, and collaborated with colleagues in, for example, religious studies, history, archaeology, linguistics, psychology, social work, geography, computer science, medicine, and gerontology.
I also work with the churches and Civil Ceremonies Ltd to train funeral celebrants.
Since 2011, I have been director of the University of Bath Centre for Death & Society.

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NoteStreams By Tony Walter

The Digital Age Changed Our Approach to Death

In the days and weeks leading up to the death of Leonard Nimoy, the actor and director most known for playing the gravel-voiced Vulcan Mr. Spock in Star Trek, knew he was dying. He used Twitter as a means to make peace with this fact, and to say goodbye to his friends, family and fans around the world with sayings, poetry, and wise words. So is a new ars moriendi, or a new craft of dying, emerging in the digital age? Historians have argued that dying was a more public affair before the 20th century, when most people were cramped together in one room hovels. Even the rich in their grand houses lived more public-facing lives than we might tolerate today.

Category: Science

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