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Emily Dunn

MA work

Title of Dissertation: Cremation and the Sensorial: Bodies, Materiality and the Disposal of the Dead in Late Victorian England

This thesis investigates the sensorial and ideas surrounding the materiality of the body in relation to the emergence of cremation as a method of disposing of the dead in the late Victorian period.

The study begins by exploring the negotiation of the sensory in the presentation and development of the new process of cremation within a wider sensory landscape, focusing on how the Cremation Society framed the procedure and attempted to mediate its sensory impact according to contemporary concerns.

Focus then shifts within the crematorium itself to consider the figure of the cremation technician, their sensory engagement with the procedure and interaction with the evolving materiality of the body undergoing the process of metamorphosis from cadaver to cremated remains. Exploring the potential for recovering a sense of skill or craft practice in the work of the technicians, their marginalised position and focus on the machine in the image of cremation is also considered.

Finally, attention turns to the change in the materiality of the body enacted by cremation, exploring attitudes towards the material of the living and dead body during the period and suggesting the potential for seeing the new material form of the body offered by cremation as a method of actively fashioning the body in death in line with contemporary sensibilities and concerns with corporeality. An overarching theme throughout the study is in considering how the image of the new process of cremation was constructed, managed and manipulated by those promoting the procedure in accordance with contemporary concerns.

Info

  • Emily Dunn profile image
  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Humanities

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2013

  • Title of Dissertation: Cremation and the Sensorial: Bodies, Materiality and the Disposal of the Dead in Late Victorian England

    This thesis investigates the sensorial and ideas surrounding the materiality of the body in relation to the emergence of cremation as a method of disposing of the dead in the late Victorian period.

    The study begins by exploring the negotiation of the sensory in the presentation and development of the new process of cremation within a wider sensory landscape, focusing on how the Cremation Society framed the procedure and attempted to mediate its sensory impact according to contemporary concerns.

    Focus then shifts within the crematorium itself to consider the figure of the cremation technician, their sensory engagement with the procedure and interaction with the evolving materiality of the body undergoing the process of metamorphosis from cadaver to cremated remains. Exploring the potential for recovering a sense of skill or craft practice in the work of the technicians, their marginalised position and focus on the machine in the image of cremation is also considered.

    Finally, attention turns to the change in the materiality of the body enacted by cremation, exploring attitudes towards the material of the living and dead body during the period and suggesting the potential for seeing the new material form of the body offered by cremation as a method of actively fashioning the body in death in line with contemporary sensibilities and concerns with corporeality. An overarching theme throughout the study is in considering how the image of the new process of cremation was constructed, managed and manipulated by those promoting the procedure in accordance with contemporary concerns.

  • Degrees

  • MA (Hons), Classical Studies, Univesity of St Andrews, 2010
  • Awards

  • Winner, Basil Taylor Memorial Prize, Royal College of Art, 2012
  • Conferences

  • 'Cremation', Skin and Bone Workshop II, Victoria & Albert Museum, 2012