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On Mourning

Theories of Loss in Modern Literature

William Watkin


Since the events of September 11th the problems of loss, mourning and commemoration have preoccupied our culture. Ours is not a culture in mourning so much as a mourning culture. Mourning, and its ethical and communal implications, therefore, are central to an understanding of contemporary western culture and its development in the new millennium.

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Contents Page
Deathart and the Poetics of Mourning
Chapter One
Emotional Authenticity: Durkheim, Geertz and Modern Mourning Rituals
Chapter Two:
Poppypetal: Elegy and Consolation
Chapter Three:
the line that does not lie down: enjambment, the tomb and the body
Chapter Four
What Remains: Julia Kristeva and the Matter of Mourning
Chapter Five:
In the Dead's Place: Theories of the Lost Object in the work of Lacan and Freud
Chapter Six:
The Environment of Loss: Klein, Bowlby and Object Relations Theory
Chapter Seven:
Facing It: Contemporary Ethical Theory and Mourning
One September, An Essay on Singularity.

About the Author

Dr William Watkin is Lecturer in Literature at Brunel University, West London. He is author of In the Process of Poetry: The New York School (Bucknell UP, 2001) along with numerous articles in the fields of contemporary poetry, literary theory and the avant-garde. He is currently working on his third book, a critical, theoretical overview of postmodern poetry.


A timely, wide-ranging, nimbly cross-disciplinary study of a subject that is of compelling interest…the strength of this book is its fertile, far-ranging, theoretically rich treatment of the central questions of grief and mourning in contemporary culture.
- Jahan Ramazani, Department of English Literature, University of Virginia