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Anticipatory Grief

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Organizer: Kevin Vennemann

Co-Organizer: Louis Bury

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Anticipatory Grief


The concept of anticipatory grief—mourning something before it has been lost—has had its greatest purchase in the discipline of academic psychology. In the clinical psychological literature, discussions of the concept tend to focus on its pragmatic applications for hospice patients and their loved ones, as well as for professional caregivers. The emphasis in such studies is on anticipatory grief’s efficacy as an adaptive response to an expected loss. While this end-of-life intersubjective framework is poignant and important, anticipatory grief’s broader sociocultural implications remain underexplored.
 
We welcome proposals, in a variety of formats, that explore the concept of anticipatory grief with respect to literature, ecology, film, art, architecture, urban planning, science, or politics. How does the concept evolve when its emphasis shifts from the anticipated loss of an individual person to the anticipated loss of someone or something much larger, such as abortion rights, species extinction, a stable climate, a system of values, or even the integrity of the larger social fabric? What sort of differing insights and methodological approaches can academic disciplines other than psychology bring to bear on the concept? How do these insights manifest in literary or aesthetic representations of anticipatory grief? What are the politics of false or erroneous anticipatory grief, of preemptive and defeatist assumptions of doom? Finally, may anticipatory grief even be indicative of a profound apprehension hidden beneath the supposed stability of modernity—of the basic human fear that our progress might not be linear or eternal; that our future might be a future of loss and regression?

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