Crossing Over: New Narratives of Death - Follow On

Lead Research Organisation: University of Hull
Department Name: English

Abstract

From 2012-2016 the multi-disciplinary AHRC Research Network "Crossing Over: New Narratives of Death" investigated the changing face of contemporary death, bereavement and commemoration. The current project seeks to bring the network's work to wider, non-academic audiences through three public-facing activities:

1.Two creative writing workshops to be run in partnership with the voluntary organisation Calderdale Dying Matters Partnership.

2. A Death Café event on the University of Hull campus.

3. End Notes: an e-book of short stories themed around end of life.

The creative writing workshops build on the network's successful collaboration in 2015 with Rotherham Hospice. Members of the network collaborated with Hospice staff to investigate the meaning of memorial objects, i.e. Objects which carried associations with a departed loved one. The collaboration produced a collective poem. The proposed Calderdale workshops will draw on Dr Karina Croucher's archaeological expertise to establish memorial meanings and practices. Using this resource, Principal Investigator Dr David Kennedy will then lead the creative writing part of the workshops. Calderdale Dying Matters Partnership will support the workshops by identifying venues and publicising
the workshops to the general public in their Calderdale catchment area.

The Death Café event will be open to staff, students and the general public. It will draw on successful national practice in Death Cafes to provide a positive and permissive space in which to discuss a range of issues surrounding end of life such as having the type of death one wants, funeral instructions and bereavement. A range of activities on the day will be used to start these sorts of conversations. For example, the Death Café will use colour coded Fink Advanced Planning cards which offer users a range of 48 topics surrounding end of life in order to get them thinking.

'End Notes' is a series of interlinked short stories and creative non-fictioneces that explore different aspects of mortality. These include caring for the dying and the terminally ill, bereavement, grieving, and rituals, mourning and remembrance ceremonies, both traditional and non-traditional. Some pieces would be based on research and interviews with people caring for those near death (hospital and hospice workers and medical staff, an imam and a rabbi), while others draw on personal experience. The collection encompasses a memoir and interviews about the journalistic death knock; the two very different funerals of an Irish exile, one in the UK and the second back in Ireland; Catholic and Jewish rituals and ceremonies; a Quaker funeral; the different attitudes towards death in Nigeria and the UK; a ghost story from Finland, and the need for heightened language in mourning ceremonies in a secular age. 'End Notes' will span a range of cultural practices, illuminating that which connects us. The collection will be edited by University of Hull creative writing lecturers Ray French and Kath McKay, who will each contribute two pieces. Six other writers will contribute. 'End Notes' would take the form of an ebook and would be made available to all major eBook retailers and convertible to both Mobi and epub.

It is proposed that activities 1 and 2 will take place during Dying Matters national awareness week which will take place in mid May 2017. The e-book will be launched in the same period.

The work of the original 'Crossing Over' network and some of its outputs can be viewed here:
http://www2.hull.ac.uk/fass/english/research/research-projects/crossing-over-network.aspx

Planned Impact

The primary beneficiary of the proposed project is the general public. The general public will benefit in two main ways. First, there will be two creative writing workshops. The workshops will be themed around poetry and archaeology. Workshop participants will bring memorial objects to the workshop. Archaeological artefacts will be used to explore and establish the meaning of memorial objects. Participants will then produce original creative writing that explores the meaning of the object they have brought. The workshop process will provide opportunities for self-development and for exploring and developing the work of mourning. Participants will benefit through cultural enrichment and capacity building.

Second, the Death Café event will benefit the public by offering them the opportunity to participate in a safe and secure forum for discussing end of life. The range of activities offered in the Death Cafe will give participants a range of ways into this difficult subject. Everyone experiences death and the need to commemorate loved ones so this will be a way of sharing common experiences.

The proposed activities involve both informing and consulting with the public. The creative writing workshops and the Death Café event aim to inspire and educate the public and also to actively listen to their views, concerns and insights in order to explore the ethical and social implications of research into contemporary death and commemoration.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title End Notes eBook 
Description End Notes is an eBook , edited by Kath Mckay and Ray French, which includes ten pieces about loss, mourning and commemoration 
Type Of Art Creative Writing 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact As described in earlier sections, this publication had an impact on the launch reading audience, in that it provoked a lively discussion and question and answer session. Questionnaires returned spoke of how the eBook and reading had stimulated listeners into thinking more deeply around the issues. 
 
Description That in this secular age, where many have turned away from established religion, people were still interested in exploring the subject of death, and found it enormously helpful to have outlets and communal spaces to facilitate this discussion. This was shown by the engaged discussion with the audience at the launch of End Notes: ten stories about loss, commemoration and mourning. It was also shown by the attendance and engagement at the Death Café, where people wanted to discuss in a safe space issues around death and the need to commemorate those who have died.
That the public are interested in learning about different cultural practices around death. Participants at the Remembering the Dead creative writing and archaeology workshop showed great interest and curiosity in learning about how past cultures commemorated their dead, and the different cultural practices involved, going on to use this new found awareness to write their own commemorations to the dead.
Exploitation Route More creative writing and archaeology workshops were called for, and would be popular, as there seems to be a need, and interest. We are currently in discussion with Richard Meek in English about collaborating on an interdisciplinary project which would inform a REF Impact Study for the University of Hull English subject area. This would include more public events .

Showcasing End Notes further at academic conferences and public events.
Another Death Café.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Healthcare,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Retail

URL https://remembermeproject.wordpress.com/
 
Description Ray French and Kath McKay were invited to present a paper on End Notes at the UK's Great Writing international Creative Writing conference 1-2 July, 2017, a conference attended by both academic and the general public for a participatory workshop Ray French and Kath McKay were invited to give a talk on, and reading from End Notes on Death and Mourning in Fiction, on 20 March, 2018 at the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield, after staff had read the E-book. This was used as a discussion for students and the public. Ray French was invited to give a talk on, and reading from End Notes at Café Psychologique, Seven Arts, Harrogate Road, Leeds after the co-ordinator read the E-book. Café Psychologique is a space to talk about life from a psychological perspective. It builds on the philosophy of Café Psychologique 'to take ideas out of universities, laboratories and clinics to make them accessible to people in everyday life'. Ray's talk was used to facilitate an interactive discussion with the public. http://www.sevenleeds.co.uk/event/cafe-psychologique-19/
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description A public event about how we deal with death and remembering. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ray French gave a talk on, and reading from End Notes at Café Psychologicue, Seven Arts, Harrrogate Road, Leeds, 27 February, 2018. Café Psychologicue takes ideas out of universities to make them accessible for people in everyday life. He talked about the project and read two extracts from the book. The audience responded with questions and thoughts of their own. There were two fifty minute sessions, separated by an interval of approximately twenty minutes. 41 people attended.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.sevenleeds.co.uk/event/cafe-psychologique-19/
 
Description Blog for the Remember Me Project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ray French wrote a blog on End Notes and the creative writing workshop and launch for the Remember Me Project, an interdisciplinary research project seeking to explore the making of meaning in memorial practises in Britain.

https://remembermeproject.wordpress.com/2018/05/16/end-notes/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Death Cafe Hull University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We held a Death Cafe at Hull University, for the general public and any professionals with an interest in the topic. We had some industry professionals who talked about different types of funerals, people who wanted to talk about their own experiences, and people who worked in the caring professions, some talking about a 'good death'. The intention of Death Cafes is to allow people to talk about death in a relaxed setting , which we achieved. People were put in touch with each other, ideas were bandied about and some people signed up for another follow on event. One student changed her dissertation topic after attending the Death Cafe.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Download of ebook available on Thresholds Short Story Forum Facebook Page, the public face of the international Short Story Forum. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Download of ebook available on Thresholds Short Story Forum Facebook Page, the public face of the international Short Story Forum.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Dr Paula C Smith, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath has made End Notes available on Moodle for final year Undergraduate module on loss grief and bereavement for the BSc (Hons) Psychology programmes. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Dr Paula C Smith, Senior Lecturer at the University of Bath has made End Notes available on Moodle for final year Undergraduate module on loss grief and bereavement for the BSc (Hons) Psychology programmes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Information about End Notes included in Centre for Death & Society newsletter, April, 2017. The University of Bath's Centre for Death & Society, which is widely circulated. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Information about End Notes included in Centre for Death & Society newsletter, April, 2017. The University of Bath's Centre for Death & Society, which is widely circulated.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Reading and launch of publication End Notes, discussion with the public 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Reading from, and launch of our publication, End Notes, with a panel of authors, followed by question and answer session and discussion with the public about the topics covered and issues raised by the publication. The intended purpose was to alert the public to our publication, to give the link to download the ebook, and to provoke public discussion and alert the public to our other events. The feedback was very positive, with the audience saying the event had provoked some really interesting questions, and many signing up for the following events ( A Death Cafe and a creative writing workshop) we were holding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Remembering the Dead 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Two archaeologists and one writer ran a combined workshop, using archaeological objects and grave goods to explore how people in the past mourned and commemorated their dead. This led onto a creative writing workshop , whereby participants wrote, using commemorative objects as a springboard to their own creative work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk on, and reading from End Notes on Death and Mourning in Fiction seminar 20 March, 2018 at the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact Talk on, and reading from End Notes on Death and Mourning in Fiction seminar 20 March, 2018 at the Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018