The American Personification of Death
Death is a reality we all must eventually face. But because of our familiarity with the concept, death is occasionally portrayed not just as an inevitability, but as a characterization in the human mythos. The visualization, and to a further extent, the personification, of the figure death has changed throughout the last few centuries, and this is evident though it's evolution in American history. Specifically, this presentation will be an exploration of the different perceptions of personified death in modern United States history ranging from the 17th century to present day. To explore this series of changing perceptions, there will be two main sources of information, the first of these being American literature, including poetry, short stories, and fiction depicting death or burial. These will include a personification or otherwise characterization of death in some form. The other primary source will be accounts of burial sites, such as cemeteries and graveyards, containing the depictions of statues, gravestones, and other mortuary imagery. From these sources, it is possible to discern popular characterizations of death across differing centuries, and possibly, how modern visualizations of personified death are impacted by these instances.
Dawn Cote, Emily, "The American Personification of Death" (2020). IdeaFest. 23.