The aftermath…Part I

This week I met with my adviser, Dr. Quigley, to go over his comments on my draft proposal. His comments were very helpful. We talked about my chapter outline, which we both see as needing improvement as I get deeper into my research. Dr. Quigley also echoed Dr. Jones, saying I need to expand my historiography to include works on the homefront during World War I, which I also see as essential to my final product. I touched on memory and the scholarship on remembering in my draft proposal, but as I revise I need to also increase my knowledge of that historiography. Luckily, according to Dr. Quigley, the body of literature on memory is broad enough but also narrow enough to be great for a Master’s thesis. Other things I need to focus more on as I continue include the interpretation of Confederate monuments themselves, not just the rhetoric and inscribed words associated with them. The actually statues and locations can tell us a lot about the way monuments were meant to reflect public memory. My argument, Dr. Quigley said, is fine for a proposal, and will naturally coalesce as I do my primary source research—a development both he and I are excited about for the summer. Dr. Quigley recommended several books to get me started, even lending me some of his own copies. One book has an essay on reconciliation during the Spanish-American War, which will hopefully also point me in the direction of more works on that topic. The other book, Where These Memories Grow, is discussed below. With feedback from Dr. Quigley, Dr. Jones, and peer reviewer Lucas, I think I will be able to revise my proposal successfully for the end of the semester.

 

Secondary sources:

Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity, ed. by John R. Gillis (1994).

This is a collection of essays all about remembering and commemorations. In his introduction to the essays which he sees as “reconnecting memory and identity in time and place” (p. 3), Gillis discusses both memory and identity as essential for understanding each other. Both concepts, as he points out, as social and political constructions (p. 5). The book focuses on public commemoration, which is very useful for my topic. Gillis ends his introduction by reminding us that there is still a need for civil spaces to foster memory and identity, since they are so intertwined (p. 20). Several essays in the book will be useful for me, including ones on the Civil War and World War I, which will add to my historiography.

Where These Memories Grow: History, Memory, and Southern Identity, ed. by W. Fitzhugh Brundage (2000).

Brundage describes this collection of essays as “social history of remembering in the South” (p. 3).  The introduction by Brundage covers a lot of useful ground as far as memory theory is concerned. I was pleased to see him citing my old professor Frederick Corney, who got me interested in memory and monuments in the first place at William & Mary. Emphasizing the ways in which people create and assert specific memories, Brundage focuses on the power of memory. There is authority in being the creator of public memory, since it influences collective memory. Collective memory, as Brundage writes, “involves sharing, discussion, negotiation, and often conflict,” all things I hope to uncover in my research (p. 4). This book will be useful to me as it speaks to the connection between material culture, such as monuments, and ritual in the creation of public memory. As my project will address as I move forward, memory is not just about remembering the past. There is always a “dialectic…between the willfully recalled and deliberately forgotten past” (p. 6).

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