Anthropology & Sociology

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Nancy Berns

Professor of Sociology
Office Location: 130 Howard Hall

Nancy Berns is a Professor of Sociology at Drake University. She received her B.A. in sociology from Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her teaching and research interests are in the areas of grief, death, violence, media, social constructionism, and social justice.

She is the author of Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us (Temple University Press, 2011). In Closure, Berns uncovers the various interpretations and contradictory meanings of closure. She identifies six types of “closure talk,” revealing closure as a socially constructed concept—a “new emotion.” Berns also explores how closure has been applied widely in popular media and how the idea has been appropriated as a political tool and to sell products and services. This book explains how the push for closure is changing our society. 

Earlier, Berns published the book, Framing the Victim: Domestic Violence, Media and Social Problems (2004), which traces how media and cultural portrayals of domestic violence shape individual understanding and social policy in a way that holds victims responsible for solving the problem and ignores the abusers and the root causes of violence.

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