"Know Death" this October at Deschutes Public Library

Posted By:  Tina Walker Davis
Date Posted:  9/12/2017

Death and dying are often taboo topics. This October Deschutes Public Library explores a variety of topics associated with the end of life during the “Know Death” series. From Buddhist traditions about the afterlife, to the history of the death penalty, to establishing our own grief rituals, experts will offer diverse insight into what death means. All programs are free and open to the public; no registration required unless noted with an asterisk (*).



The History and Constitutionality of Executions*

Opinions about the death penalty are fueled by emotion and driven by passion. But what do we know about capital punishment? People debating either side agree that “death is different” because execution is irreversible. Given these ultimate stakes, it makes sense to dial down the volume and enhance our understanding of state-administered death. During this program, we will review the history and constitutional status of the death penalty in America. This conversation, led by James Foster, OSU Professor Emeritus, aims to deepen insight rather than change minds. *Space is limited and registration is required; register using the links below.


Death in Poetry

Join us for close reading of poems as we explore ways in which poets have viewed death. The examination of death—both literal and figurative—has been contemplated by poets for centuries. Join COCC’s Chris Rubio for a close reading of poems from Emily Dickinson to Richard Blanco as we explore the various ways poets have viewed death.


Ritual and Ceremony in Modern Life

How do we make meaning out of the big milestones in our personal and community lives? For the many people who do not have strong ties to religious or other cultural traditions, major life events such as birth, aging, relationship changes, illness, death and community crises are often marked by no ritual at all. What is the role of ritual and ceremony? How are we affected by life events that pass unobserved? What new ceremonies are people creating to mark these milestones? Join Holly Pruitt for a conversation about ritual and ceremony and the role they play in milestone events.


The Journey Into That Good Night in Drama

Explore how the staging of death in drama reflects time, traditions, and attitudes toward death. From Sophocles to Shakespeare, Miller to Muller, death has been a central motif in drama. Tina Redd from COCC explores how the staging of death in drama reflects time, traditions, and attitudes toward death across the centuries.


What Is the Meaning of Life?

Explore the psychology behind why humans may believe in ghosts, the afterlife, or other mysterious aspects of life. This presentation, led by COCC’s Dr. Andria Woodell, will explore some of the psychology behind why humans may believe in ghosts, the afterlife, or simply have an overall curiosity to generate explanations for the chaotic and sometimes mysterious aspects of life.


Death in the Short Story

Explore how authors have used death to shape the American short story.  Annemarie Hamlin explores how authors have used death to shape the American short story. Participants are encouraged to read the designated texts ahead of time and should anticipate a vigorous conversation. Readings: Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour"; Raymond Carver, "A Small, Good Thing"; Maxine Hong Kingston, "No Name Woman."


Death, Dying and Great Compassion in Buddhism

In Buddhism, death and dying are understood within the larger cycle of life. At the same time, in the depths of the life of the self, in the oneness of reality, there is also understood to be a great compassion that goes beyond life and death. In this presentation we will explore these two levels of reality; death, dying, and grief within the cycle of life; and the oneness of great compassion beyond life and death. This program is presented by Mark Unno, Associate Professor of Japanese Buddhism at the University of Oregon.


Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican celebration that has its roots in ancient indigenous culture. Over time, it has created many symbolic and artistic ways in which to honor a family’s ancestors. The meaning of each symbol and artistic part of a traditional ofrenda (altar/table to display photos of ancestors) will be explained. A large and elaborate ofrenda will be available to welcome a photo of your favorite ancestor. Come enjoy Mexican dance and folk music performances by Renee Gonzalez and the students from Bear Creek Folk Ballet Group; Miguel de Alonso, guitar; Billy Mickleson, cello; Brad Porterfield, guitarra de son; and Yolanda Alicia, vocalist.


For more information about these programs, please visit the library website at People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Liz Goodrich at or 541-312-1032.


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