Vicki Daniel

Waiting for a Death Revolution: A Review of HBO’s Alternate Endings: Six New Ways to Die in America

I can’t decide what to do with my corpse. Embalming, the bread-and-butter of the American funeral industry, feels wrong. Is cremation a better option for me? Do I want a funeral service where everyone can cry (or celebrate) my departure? Or is it better to just let things go quietly, no ritual required? The fact… Read more →

Armchair Detectives and the Allure of Death in Miniature at the Smithsonian

It was one of the coldest January days in recent memory, but that didn’t seem to deter the crowds inside the Renwick Gallery of American Art in downtown Washington, D.C. As I entered the museum that afternoon in 2018, I ran into a dense crowd of people—all simply waiting to enter the museum’s blockbuster exhibit… Read more →

“Witness the ‘Wall of Genitals’”: Anatomical Display at Brooklyn’s House of Wax

Located in the lobby of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Brooklyn, the House of Wax is a dimly lit bar decorated with more than 100 anatomical, pathological, and ethnographic wax models. Once part of Castan’s Panopticum, a popular attraction in Berlin from 1869 to 1922, the models were purchased last year by collector Ryan Matthew… Read more →

Public Health and the Dead at Johnstown

In the twenty-four hour news cycle we live in, we frequently are treated to instantaneous images of disasters unfolding around the globe. I am often reminded how disasters do more than destroy the physical infrastructure of the affected areas; they strike at the very core of individual and community identity. The normal rituals of everyday… Read more →