Due to staff shortage, the Downtown Library will close at 7pm tonight.

The Missoula Public Library is pleased to partner with the University of Montana Humanities Institute on a series of informal talks, lectures, film screenings, and book club events designed to engage our community in a discussion about death, dying, and loss.


In the wake of a devastating epidemic, we need more than ever to gather for community discussion about a topic that is difficult, but essential to living a full life.


Throughout 2022, we will hold events each month featuring UM professors in the humanities who will share their expertise with the wider community. Professors in a range of disciplines will present short lectures on topics designed to generate discussion, including death rituals and beliefs around the world (African, Hindu, Irish, Middle Eastern); death experiences from past time periods, shifting attitudes about death and dying in cultural practices like funerals, cremation, and end-of-life experiences, and new movements to de-stigmatize discussions of death.


We aim to generate elevated and affirmative discussion that builds community through public engagement with a challenging topic during challenging times. We also encourage library patrons to suggest topics related to this series that they’d like to explore in future sessions. Most events take place on Monday evenings and are located in the library’s Cooper Room (Level Four). Film screenings take place Friday evenings, also in the Cooper Room.

Discussion Dates and Topics

Jan. 24, 5:30-7PM – Poetry, Grief, and Preparing for the Inevitable. With Dr. Ashby Kinch.

Feb. 7, 5:30-7PM – Death, Rebirth and Endless Cycles in Hinduism. With Dr. Ruth Vanita.

Feb. 28, 5:30-7PM – Grief and Writing. A conversation led by Dr. Amy Ratto-Parks with Qlispe poet Dr. Heather Cahoon

Mar. 7, 5:30-7PM – Irish Traditions of Lament with Dr. Katie Kane and Dr. Bernadette Sweeney

Mar. 14, 5:30-7PM – Manifestations and Performances of Grief in Irish Culture with Dr. Katie Kane and Dr. Bernadette Sweeney

Apr. 11, 5:30-7PM – Dr. Clary Loisel discusses short stories “The Son” by Horacio Quiroga and “Walking Out” by David Quammen

Apr. 18, 5:30-7PM – Indigenous Trickster Tropes on Death and Demise with Dr. Kate Shanley

May 9, 5:30-7PM – Orphans, Actors, and Ghosts: Exiled Writers on Loss and Life with Erin Saldin

May 23, 5:30-7PM – BOOK CLUB EVENT – Dr. Matthew Semanoff discusses “People Love Dead Jews: Reports from a Haunted Present” by Dara Horn

Jun. 10. 6:30-9PM – FILM SCREENING – Hana-bi, directed by Takeshi Kitano, discussion with Prof. Matthew Strohl

*Stay tuned for more programs announced through November 2022. 

University of Montana Humanities Institute

This program is a partnership between the Missoula Public Library and the University of Montana Humanities Institute.

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