2023 Abstracts Stage 2

The Death of Death in Representation: A Heideggerian investigation into representations of death in mainstream media during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oliver Bould, 2023, Stage 2

During the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the media found itself burdened with the responsibility of informing members of the public of the deaths occurring around the world and the immanent potential of their own deaths from this disease. Studies have shown that consumption of this media coverage is associated with negative mental impacts, such as increased levels of anxiety and depression (Niel et al., 2021). This, therefore, indicates an important topic of investigation and a key opportunity to investigate media representations of death. In this project, the effect of media representations of death on our self understanding will be investigated through the philosophical framework provided in Martin Heidegger’s ‘Being and Time’. Through a close reading of this text and a historical account of the representation of death in UK mainstream media during the ‘lockdown period’ of 2020, it will be shown that even in this case, where death is represented as an immanent possibility of the reader, media representations cannot provide an understanding of death that will enable an authentic mode of ‘Being-towards-death’. This project will also provide an understanding of complex concepts found in ‘Being and Time’ through their application to recent world events.

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