Commemoration lies at the poetic, historiographic, and social heart of human community. It is how societies define themselves and is central to the institution of the city. Addressing the complex ways that monuments in the United States have been imagined, created, and perceived from the colonial period to the present, Commemoration in America is a wide-ranging volume that focuses on the role of remembrance and memorialization in American urban life. The volume’s contributors are drawn from a spectrum of disciplines—social and urban history, urban planning, architecture, art history, preservation, and architectural history—and take a broad view of commemoration. In addition to the making of traditional monuments, the essays explore such commemorative acts as building preservation, biography, portraiture, ritual performance, street naming, and the planting of trees. Providing an overview of American memorialization and the impulses behind it, Commemoration in America emphasizes a universal tendency for individuals and groups to use monuments to define their contemporary social identity and to construct historical narratives. The volume shows that while commemorative acts and objects affect the community in fundamental ways, their meaning is always multivalent and conflicted, attesting to both triumphs and tragedies. Constituting a vital part of both individual and national identity, commemoration’s contradictions strike at the core of American identity and speak to the importance of remembrance in the construction of our diverse national cultural landscape. Contributors: Jhennifer A. Amundson, Judson University * Catherine W. Bishir, North Carolina State University Libraries * Thomas J. Campanella, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill * Glenn T. Eskew, Georgia State University * Glenn Forley, Parsons / The New School for Design * Sally Greene, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill * Alison K. Hoagland, Michigan Technological University * Lynne Horiuchi, University of California, Berkeley * Ellen M. Litwicki, SUNY Fredonia * David Lowenthal, University College London * Mark A. Peterson, University of California, Berkeley * Richard M. Sommer, University of Toronto * Dell Upton, University of California, Los Angeles
Commemorative practices are revised and rebuilt based on the spirit of the time in which they are re/created. Historians sometimes imagine that commemoration captures history, but actually commemoration creates new narratives about history that allow people to interact with the past in a way that they find meaningful. As our social values change (race, gender, religion, sexuality, class), our commemorations do, too. We Are What We Remember: The American Past Through Commemoration, analyzes current trends in the study of historical memory that are particularly relevant to our own present – our biases, our politics, our contextual moment – and strive to name forgotten, overlooked, and denied pasts in traditional histories. Race, gender, and sexuality, for example, raise questions about our most treasured myths: where were the slaves at Jamestowne? How do women or lesbians protect and preserve their own histories, when no one else wants to write them? Our current social climate allows us to question authority, and especially the authoritative definitions of nation, patriotism, and heroism, and belonging. How do we “un-commemorate” things that were “mis-commemorated” in the past? How do we repair the damage done by past commemorations? The chapters in this book, contributed by eighteen emerging and established scholars, examine these modern questions that entirely reimagine the landscape of commemoration as it has been practiced, and studied, before.
The Art of Commemoration and America s First Rural Cemetery
"The first comprehensive analysis of the U.S. Civil War Centennial, Troubled Commemoration masterfully depicts the episode as an essential window into the political, social, and cultural conflicts of America in the 1960s and confirms that it has much to tell us about the development of the modern South."--BOOK JACKET.
In a compelling inquiry into public events ranging from the building of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial through ethnic community fairs to pioneer celebrations, John Bodnar explores the stories, ideas, and symbols behind American commemorations over the last century. Such forms of historical consciousness, he argues, do not necessarily preserve the past but rather address serious political matters in the present.
In the past few decades, thousands of new memorials to executed witches, victims of terrorism, and dead astronauts, along with those that pay tribute to civil rights, organ donors, and the end of Communism have dotted the American landscape. Equally ubiquitous, though until now less the subject of serious inquiry, are temporary memorials: spontaneous offerings of flowers and candles that materialize at sites of tragic and traumatic death. In Memorial Mania, Erika Doss argues that these memorials underscore our obsession with issues of memory and history, and the urgent desire to express—and claim—those issues in visibly public contexts. Doss shows how this desire to memorialize the past disposes itself to individual anniversaries and personal grievances, to stories of tragedy and trauma, and to the social and political agendas of diverse numbers of Americans. By offering a framework for understanding these sites, Doss engages the larger issues behind our culture of commemoration. Driven by heated struggles over identity and the politics of representation, Memorial Mania is a testament to the fevered pitch of public feelings in America today.
Author: United States. Congress. Joint Committee on the Library