The Lips of the Dead and the ‘Kiss of Life’: The Contemporary Deathbed and the Aesthetic of CPR

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Abstract

Over the last four decades, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has become the medical, legal and media standard for behaviour in the face of sudden death. The key therapeutic techniques of CPR: mouth–to–mouth ventilation, external–cardiac–compressions and defibrillation – with their origins in the eighteenth century, strange peregrinations in the nineteenth, and consolidation in the twentieth – are central to what may be seen as a newly dominant form of deathbed ritual.

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