A Monumental War: Civil War Narratives Cast in Stone

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Dee BRITTON, State University of New York, Empire State College, USA
Public memorials and monuments are visual representations of narratives that are important to a society. Their construction and utilization provide important indicators of the social groups that attain the power to control social discourse and the memorial environment. Monuments located in public space allegedly represent a consensus of collective commemoration. However, differing experiences and perspectives of social ruptures create conflicting narratives that may challenge the commemorative status quo.

The United States’ Civil War memorials, ubiquitous in the American memorial landscape, are a focus of conflicting commemorative narratives. Those who support the continued presence of the statues in public space state that they honor Southern history and heritage; those demanding their removal claim that the monuments are racist symbols. This paper examines the role of race and class in the construction and placement of US Civil War Memorials, identifies those “invisible” in the Civil War memorial landscape, and discusses the implications of this ongoing “monumental war”.