Skip to main content Skip to navigation

The Materiality of Mourning: an interdisciplinary workshop

Thursday 19th-Friday 20th May 2016, University of Warwick

Funded by the Wellcome Trust.

This interdisciplinary workshop brought together scholars and practitioners across a range of disciplines for a two-day workshop exploring the roles and uses of images and objects in contexts of grief and mourning.

Please click here for the programme, and list of abstracts.

Selected papers will be published in a forthcoming volume:

Z. Newby and R. Toulson, eds., The Materiality of Mourning: cross-disciplinary perspectives (Routledge, 2018)


Grief and bereavement are human constants, affecting all of us, across time, religions and cultures. Yet our responses to them are both emotionally and culturally conditioned, and can take a variety of forms. For historians, the remnants of past grief are often revealed to us through physical memorials: a tombstone, a carved epitaph, or a cherished possession which passes into the ownership of the bereaved. The physical object stands as a tangible remnant of embedded sets of relationships, emotions and desires which it is the job of the he historian to unpick.This workshop will explore the role of material objects and images in the processes of grief, mourning and commemoration, across a range of time periods and cultures. The aim is to open up awareness of the different ways of studying this material, allowing for cross-disciplinary insights which will deepen our understanding of both present and past societies, while allowing for the recognition of social and cultural differences.

Keynote Speakers:

Michael Brennan, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Liverpool Hope University. 'Why materiality matters'

Douglas Davies, Professor of the Study of Religion, Durham: ‘Grave and hopeful emotions’

See the display of work in S.020