TUT 100.20
American Memorials and the Politics of Memory

Fall 2004

Tuesday & Thursday 8:00-9:50

Mears 115

Sarah J. Purcell

Office: Mears 316

Phone: 269-3091

E-mail: PURCELL@grinnell.edu

Office Hours: Tues. & Wed. 10-12; Thurs. 10-11 & 1-3; and by appointment

Please come see me during office hours or make an appointment.  Feel free to call or e-mail me any time if you have problems or questions.

Course Description: In the post-September 11 United States, public memory has taken on heightened social importance.  Plans for several September 11 memorials are well under way, and the public recollection and commemoration of the events of September 11 have taken on a large role in American political discourse.  Why does the American public feel the need to commemorate sacrifice, and why is there a debate over the proper form of public memory?

This tutorial will explore these questions and will put the current debate in the context of a long tradition of public memorials in America.  Students will investigate how Americans have often defined important matters such as national identity, politics, and race in the process of building memorials that celebrate the past.  We will analyze formal commemorations such as war memorials (including the Bunker Hill Monument and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial), museums, and national parks; popular culture commemorations in graffiti, rap music, and on the web; and proposals for new kinds of monuments in the twenty-first century.  We will investigate how public memory has been and continues to be politicized.


All students are required to purchase a Mon.-Fri. subscription to the New York Times through the College Book Store.

Course Pack of articles (available for sale in the College Book Store)

Kristin Hass, Carried to the Wall: American Memory and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (University of California, 1998)

Edward Linenthal, The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City in American Memory (Oxford, 2001)

Andrea Lunsford, Easy Writer, 2nd Edition (Bedford/ St. Martin, 2002)

Thomas J. Brown, The Public Art of Civil War Commemoration

Student Responsibilities:

Tutorial is a collaborative enterprise, so it is very important for all students to participate fully in class.  This means attending class having done the reading, ready and willing to share your ideas.  We will be exploring the specific topic of American memorials, and we will also simultaneously be working on improving our writing, analytical, and oral skills. 

Students will participate in a variety of activities and discussions outside of class, both formally and informally.  The most notable of these will be the use of the Blackboard on-line discussion forum.  All students must post a contribution at least once a week on the on-line discussion forum.  From time to time the entire class will be asked to post contributions to a specific discussion.  Guidelines and instructions for using the Blackboard forum will be distributed in class.

Students in this class will complete a variety of writing assignments, ranging from one paragraph to the final 5-7 page paper.  All assignments must be turned in on time and in good order.  Unless otherwise indicated, all papers must be typed, double-spaced, in a 10 or 12-point font with footnotes or endnotes in University of Chicago style.  Additional paper guidelines will be discussed in class.

Because class time is so important to this course, regular attendance is essential.  You should not miss class unless you are ill or have another emergency.  Chronic lateness will cause problems.  If you miss class or are habitually late without a good explanation, your performance and grade in this class will suffer severely.  If you need to miss class for sickness, emergency, extra-curricular activity, or athletics, let Ms. Purcell know.

Grinnell College grants reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities.  If you require an accommodation due to a disability, please alert Ms. Purcell during the first week of class so arrangements can be made.

Schedule and Assignments

Thursday, Aug. 26

Discussion of Memorials and September 11

Reading Due:

Dan Gilgoff, “A Delicate Dance over 9/11,” U.S. News & World Report March 22, 2004 (Vol. 136, Issue 10); David Dunlap, “5,201 Ideas for 9/11 Memorial, From the Sublime to the Less So,” New York Times, February 20, 2004; Memorial website http://www.wtcsitememorial.org ; Lower Manhattan Development Corporation  http://www.renewnyc.com/


Tuesday, Aug. 31

Memory, Memorials, and History

Reading Due:

Peter Burk, “History as Social Memory”  PACKET; Jack Hitt, “The American Way of Dealing with Death,” New York Times, August 18, 2002; Caryn James, “The Appeal of Public Sorrow,” New York Times, June 10, 2004


Thursday, Sept. 2

 Library Session  MEET IN LIBRARY





Tuesday, Sept. 7

How to read the New York Times,  bring your newspaper to class


Thursday, Sept. 9

The Bunker Hill Monument

Reading Due:  

Purcell, Sealed with Blood, Chapter 5 excerpt


Tuesday, Sept. 14

Media critique for the anniversary of September 11




Thursday, Sept. 16

Re-imagining the Bunker Hill Monument

Reading Due:

Newspaper articles on Wodizcko projection


Tuesday, Sept. 21

Civil War, Race, and Monuments

Reading Due:

Kirk Savage, “The Politics of Memory: Black Emancipation and the Civil War Monument,” in PACKET; Brown, Public Art, vii-56


Thursday, Sept. 23

Civil War, Race, and Monuments

Reading Due:

Brown, Public Art, 57-78


*Saturday, Sept. 25

Field trip to Des Moines  *Meet in Mears parking lot  10:00 a.m.

Background Reading in PACKET:

Louise Rosenfield Noun, “Harriet Ketchum, Resolute Artist,” The Palimpsest, May/June 1986: 70-79; Louise Rosenfield Noun, “The Iowa Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument,” The Palimpsest, May/June 1986: 80-93


Tuesday, Sept. 28

Civil War, Race, and Monuments

Reading Due:

Brown, Public Art, 79-170




Thursday, Sept. 30

Peer Review of Paper drafts


Tuesday, Oct. 5

Papers Due  4:15 p.m. in Ms. Purcell’s box


Thursday, Oct. 7

Memorializing World War II

Reading Due:

Edward Tabor Linenthal, “Pearl Harbor,” PACKET; Articles on World War II memorial


Tuesday, Oct. 12

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Explore website:

 http://www.ushmm.org/; Edward Tabor Linenthal, “The Boundaries of Memory, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,” American Quarterly 46 (1996): 406-433 J-STOR E-Reserve


Thursday, Oct. 14

Oral presentations on Grinnell memorials MEET AT 8:00



Fall Break Oct. 16-24



Tuesday, Oct. 26

The Vietnam War and Popular Culture

Reading Due:

John Hellman, “The Vietnam Film and American Memory,” PACKET



“The Deer Hunter” (1978) 183 minutes    place and time TBA


Thursday, Oct. 28

Discuss: “The Deer Hunter” (Possible meeting in Library)


Tuesday, Nov. 2

American Memory and the Vietnam Memorial

Reading Due:

Kristin Ann Hass, Carried to the Wall



“Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision” (1994) 83 minutes   place and time TBA


Thursday, Nov. 4

Discuss: “Maya Lin: A Strong, Clear Vision.”




Tuesday, Nov. 9

Oklahoma City and American Memory

Reading Due:

Edward T. Linenthal, The Unfinished Bombing, pp. ix-108


Thursday, Nov. 11

Reading Due: Edward T. Linenthal, The Unfinished Bombing, pp. 109-241


Tuesday, Nov. 16

Hip Hop Memory: Tupac Shakur


 Derek I.M. Gilbert (aka D-Knowledge) “Reflections on the Life and Death of 2Pac: “Keep on Livin’” in Tough Love: The Life and Death of Tupac Shakur, ed. Michael Datcher and Kwame Alexander (Alexandria, VA: Black Words, 1997), pp. 64-72; Michael Eric Dyson, Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur (New York: Basic Civitas, 2001), pp. 247-268


Thursday, Nov. 18

Web Presentations on murals, graffiti, and memory


Tuesday, Nov. 23

Film: “Tupac: Resurrection” (2003) 90 min. MEET AT 8:00


Discuss Amazon.com  reviews of the film


Thursday, Nov. 25



Tuesday, Nov. 30

Small Group paper meetings


Thursday, Dec. 2

Small Group paper meetings


Tuesday, Dec. 7



Thursday, Dec. 9

The Politics of Memory


Exam Week: December 13-17

Grinnell College Home Page | Tutorial Home Page
This page last modified August 24, 2004