Goochland County CSA monument, 1918
I am happy to report the completion of a successful committee meeting! I was very pleased with my committee recommendations, and it seems they are all excited to have a hand in my project. My committee is headed up by Dr. Quigley and also includes Dr. Jones and Dr. Cline. Dr. Cline was the only committee member I had not yet met with, so he gave some very helpful comments on my proposal draft to start the meeting. He suggested that rather than say I am studying Confederate memory, I make it clear that I am studying the public enactment of that memory, which is much easier to get at and which I was really studying anyway but hadn’t articulated. Dr. Cline and Dr. Quigley agreed that one unique aspect of my work will be bringing the physical nature of monuments and the rhetoric surrounding them together, rather than studying either one in isolation.
My committee agreed that to build my historiography, I need to deepen my understanding of two important contexts: World War I America and the making of monuments, especially Civil War monuments, in general. My committee was intrigued by the idea of the generational shift taking part around the 1910s and the impact that may have had on Civil War memorialization. The ongoing national conversation during this time over the role of black soldiers in the military is another factor that I will look into. Dr. Jones reemphasized the importance of Grace Hale’s Making Whiteness, which I have finally checked out of the library and begun to read!
Much of the meeting focused on comments that had been given already by both Dr. Jones and Mr. Kelley, my peer reviewer. We also discussed my research plan for the summer and the importance of incorporating sources from local organizations, not just the large repositories in Richmond. I am very excited, of course, to see more of the Old Dominion and check new monuments off my list of things to see.
Overall, I was happy with how my first full committee meeting went and I think I will be able to revise my proposal successfully for May 5. At this point I am ready to start contacting people and going to do research, but most of that will have to wait just a little longer! As my committee put it in summation, I have a great question—now all I need is a great answer!