Interdisciplinary panel to discuss historic monuments

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The University of Connecticut American Studies Program announced on Friday that a interdisciplinary panel will be held to discuss the “issues surrounding the current and ongoing battles over historic monuments and their impact on historical memory,” according to a press release. 

The panel will feature faculty and students “from a wide variety of disciplines,” and will convene at noon on Thursday, Sept. 24 via Zoom. 

Christopher Vials, the Director of the American Studies Program at UConn and a professor of English, said that the American Studies Program is unique.  

According to Vials, there is no existing department at the university “that adequately captures and contains a conversation that can happen in art, history, geography, philosophy, history, English and political science.”  

“issues surrounding the current and ongoing battles over historic monuments and their impact on historical memory.”

“Erecting a monument isn’t just a neutral statement about history,” Vials said. “It’s about honoring particular and selective features from the past. Tearing down a monument is a political act, but putting up a monument is a political act as well. Monuments are visual artworks, often of distant vintage, that construct particular sites of memory. In doing so, the figures they marbelize manage to display how the social structures of earlier eras continue to permeate everyday life in the here and now.”

Several departments at the university, such as geography, art history and philosophy, will be represented in the discussion by other members of the panel — including professor of history Micki McElya, whose most recent book, “The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery,” has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. 

Those interested in attending the online discussion should contact Professor Vials at christopher.vials@uconn.edu for more information. 

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