Grim Reaper: Death Mask Timeline and Sources


Emily Paulino, Luke Williams, Coleman Smith, Isaac Gage

Professor Jaclyn Bergamino


31 March 2016


Thursday March 31

Summary/timeline complete

Work on script/screenplay in class


Tuesday April 5

Script/screenplay complete

Costumes and props obtained/made

Filmed death scene outdoors/in Hess Rec center on April 4


Thursday April 7

Each student’s 1,000 word first drafts

In class go over/critique writeups


Tuesday April 12

Final drafts of 1,000 words

Have pictures/etc for voice over scenes

Meeting April 13 to record voice over/commentary scenes


Thursday April 14

Voice over scenes completed

Brainstorm/begin applying pictures/etc to voice over/commentary scenes


By Tuesday April 19

Some edits done


Thursday April 21

Editing complete


By Tuesday April 26

Functioning with Layar

Final project due


For our group project we have chosen to examine the cultural/spiritual symbolism and significance of death in various cultures around the world. To be more specific we are going to look at masks and the role they play in the different ceremonies and customs. The augmented reality portion of this project will include a short video-recorded reenactment of a tragic event. After the video as end credits we are going to have audio recordings of our groups researchers explaining how different cultures around the world would treat the event and the ceremonies they would hold to transition their dead. For example the researchers would talk about Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexican culture and explain what family members, friends, and other acquaintances of the deceased would do to honor them. The augmented reality will also include links to sources the researchers used so that any who are interested in further academic investigation can do so.


“The Black Death.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <;.

This source provided information about the Black Death during the Middle Ages in Europe. This source was useful for answering our research question because it will help me to analyze why doctors during the Middle Ages used beak masks when attempting to treat the ill. This source is strong because it has scientific and cultural reasons for why doctors wore their plague masks. The source is potentially weak because it only provides one perspective. I plan to compensate for this weakness by finding more sources on this topic. – Isaac Gage

Caryl-Sue. “Dia de los Muertos” [“Day of the Dead”]. National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <;.

The research question for our project is what role do masks play in funeral rites and death ceremonies of different cultures around the world. This source provides information about the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I used this source to bring in the Mexican cultural perspective on death and what they do to honor their dead. This source is strong because National Geographic is a credible, reliable website on many aspects of cultural history. One potential weakness could be that the source is a few years old, but I think when it comes to a subject like this the cultural customs most likely don’t change drastically within the span of a few years. – Isaac Gage


Bascom, William R. “Four Functions of Folklore”. The Journal of American Folklore 67.266 (1954): 333–349. Web.

To start off the author explains the social context of folklore. What he means by that is our ancestors didn’t make stories that didn’t pertain to them. They lived in a world of almost complete isolation from people other than their own besides for the occasional conquest or barbarian force that passed through. The issues that are associated with this is are similar to a game of telephone that has lasted centuries. Many of these people did not know how to write nor could they even read so as retellings passed down from generation to generation certain parts got lost in the mix. Along with that we don’t get to see the motions nor facial expressions used in the original telling. Also grouped under this is placement of the story, as one could imagine when it is the heart of winter you would most likely tell a story like “frozen” to explain what winter is or about the abominable snowman because they are considered relevant to what is happening in the surroundings at that time. With that is the addition of magic. Now if one was to ask you what you read in the beginning of this article you probably wouldn’t remember, but I bet that joke you heard last week is still fresh in your mind. This is because when intrigue is added to a story it and a sort of brain cementing feature a noted. It allows for one to remember it better by its uniqueness rather than being the same as everything else heard. – Coleman Smith


Ben-Amos, Dan. “Toward a Definition of Folklore in Context”. The Journal of American Folklore 84.331 (1971): 3–15. Web.

Ben- Amos wrote this article to try and grasp an understanding on the definition of folklore which Mythology now falls under. He begins by explaining how Stories like that of grim reaper which most everyone has come to conclude is fiction is like a superorganism. What he means is their indigenous environment, and cultural context are no longer required for their existence to continue. Certain details like background information might change and shift from one retelling to another but they still usually retain enough to convey the original message. These stories will cross language boundaries and pass from one culture to the next. This is an important to the telling’s of the grim reaper where over generations of people the tales have changed. – Coleman Smith


Jedrej, M. C.. “A Comparison of Some Masks from North America, Africa, and Melanesia”. Journal of Anthropological Research 36.2 (1980): 220–230. Web…

This source from the Journal of Anthropological Research gives a comparison of masks throughout different cultures around the world. It talks about how masks were used in spiritual rituals, about specific spirits the masks were representing, and themes represented in different rituals such as masculinity, femininity, fertility, death, etc. It also talks about the material that masks and costumes were made from in these different cultures. Another thing the article mentions is it was believed that rituals were held in the place that the space occupied by mortals and the space occupied by spirits overlap. This article has a lot of good information on the subject. – Emily Paulino

Bryant, Charles, and Josh Clark. “How Death Masks Work.” Audio blog post.Stuff You Should Know. Howstuffworks, 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <>.

This source is from the award winning podcast Stuff You Should Know. It is about death masks, the cast of someone’s face who is recently deceased, originally only made from faces of royal or noble people. In this podcast they discuss the origins of death masks and how they were used in ancient roman and egyptian cultures. Europe made these masks of primarily noble people such as artist, poets, etc until late modern history. They talk about the Laurence Hutton death mask museum at Princeton and the collection of masks there. They also discuss how death masks are made, using materials such as plaster negatives, wax, bronze, marble, etc. While this form of death mask is different from the kind of masks you would see at the UAF museum, I think it is a relevant and interesting subject to look into further. – Emily Paulino


“History of Masks – Ancient Use of Masks.” History of Masks. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016. <;.

This site offers a multitude of different cultural masks, and their uses in ritual. While it technically doesn’t have a whole lot of information on death itself, it does offer a lot of information on masks in general and among several different cultures and their uses. The only cultures missing from the list (quite conveniently since it’s the only cultural group of masks we actually need) were that of Native American tribes and cultures. The doesn’t help a whole lot, but seeing how masks are used in culture and history is invaluable in the long run. – Luke Williams

“Aztec Masks.” Aztec Masks. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.masks.html>.

What are the Aztecs known for? Ritual sacrifice or people for their gods, so therefore they use masks for this ritual purpose. Some are literal death masks, others have successful combatants taking the faceoff fallen adversaries and offer them to the temple as a mask. Most, thankfully were made of Turquoise, a mineral considered valuable and sacred amongst the Aztec people. The death masks themselves had open eyes and mouths to represent the memory of the deceased and how they lived. – Luke Williams



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