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Obituaries are a constant in any standard newspaper publication, standing apart from other sections of the paper as a separate genre of writing. As a genre, obituaries serve to chronicle and commemorate those who have died and, historically, have been purposefully written to create a collective social memory of socially-respected people. These collective social memories create a framework for the ideal citizen—one by which others in the society should measure themselves. However, as these collective social memories form, a dangerous mirror effect emerges. Obituary experts and sociologists Bridget Fowler and Esperança Bielsa refer to this phenomenon as “systematic forgetting” (Fowler and Bielsa, 203). As the majority society chooses what traits to perpetuate and praise, it simultaneously works to eliminate other qualities; thus, those that possess the unfavorable qualities face erasure. This presentation tracks the history of obituary exclusions, analyzing who is typically left off the obituary page and how. In addition to historical exclusion, a modern shift in the genre will also be addressed, focusing on how obituaries have evolved in purpose, resulting in the potential for greater inclusivity. The heart of the presentation reveals how minority exclusion pervades every element of culture, even the obituary pages.


This is a metadata-only record.



  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • MPR 2

  • Event date
    • 22 March 2019

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Rifenburg