Monumental Narratives: Revisiting New England’s Public Memorials

Martha McNamara's picture
March 10, 2018
Massachusetts, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Architecture and Architectural History, Public History, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Cultural History / Studies

Monumental Narratives: Revisiting New England’s Public Memorials

Saturday, March 10th, 2016   9:00 – 4:30

Collins Cinema, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts

As southern Civil War memorials have become a flashpoint for politics and protest, it is vital that we turn the same critical gaze to New England’s public monuments.  This day-long symposium will explore commemorations of people, places, and events in New England's past, with attention to design, construction, naming/renaming, reception, preservation, destruction, and/or reconfiguration.   How do these public acts of memory tell a particular story of New England?  What histories might they celebrate or, whether explicitly or implicitly, conceal, devalue, or erase? How can historians recast these monumental narratives without simultaneously sweeping aside uncomfortable histories of colonialism and discrimination?

The symposium is free and open to the public but seating is limited. To register in advance, please visit the Wellesley College Art Department website: 

The symposium is funded by the Barra Foundation and co-sponsored by the Grace Slack McNeil Program for Studies in American Art at Wellesley College and Historic Deerfield.

8:30-8:45       Registration

8:45-9:00       Welcome:       Alice T. Friedman, Grace Slack McNeil Professor of American Art, Wellesley College

                                             Barbara Mathews, Public Historian and Director of Academic Programs, Historic Deerfield


Panel 1:  Reframing Monuments

Suzanne Flynt, Independent Scholar, Former Curator, Memorial Hall Museum

Alice Nash, Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Massachusetts

            “Covering Up History in Deerfield, MA”

Laura Macaluso, Independent Scholar

            “What To Do About Columbus? History, Ethnicity, and Identity in Connecticut’s First Monument to Columbus”

Glenn Mitoma, Assistant Professor, Human Rights, University of Connecticut

Alexis Boylan, Associate Professor, Art and Art History, University of Connecticut

            “John Mason and the Movement of Memory”

Derek O’Leary, Ph.D. Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley

            “Placing Sarmiento”

10:45-11:00  Break


Panel 2: What Makes a Monument?

Kevin Murphy, Professor & Chair, Department of Art History, Vanderbilt University

            “Memorializing the Revolution Fifty Years Later: The Contribution of Gen. Lafayette”

Nancy Siegel, Professor of Art History, Towson University

            “The Burning Obelisk: Paul Revere’s Memory of the Stamp Act Monument”

Ian Stevenson, Ph.D. Candidate, American and New England Studies, Boston University

            “Eight Acres of Heaven”: Civil War Memory, Leisure, and The New Hampshire

Veterans Association Campus at Weirs Beach, 1878-1896”

Deborah H. Stein, Independent Scholar

            “An Homage to the Early Italian Renaissance: the Façade Panels of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in Copley Square”

12:30-2:00    Lunch (on your own)


Panel 3: Landscapes of Memory

Christine DeLucia, Assistant Professor of History, Mt. Holyoke College

            “Remembering, Rewriting, and Resisting in the Native Northeast: New Approaches to Indigenous Placemaking, Countermemorials, and Histories of Violence”

Siobhan M. Hart, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Skidmore College

            “Remembering Indians, Forgetting Whiteness”

Barbara Mathews, Public Historian, Historic Deerfield, Inc.

Peter Thomas, Independent Scholar

            “Making History: Memory, Commemoration, and the Bloody Brook Monuments”

Kate Melchior, Student Program Coordinator, Massachusetts Historical Society

            “Stumbling over Slavery: How a Holocaust Memorial Tradition is Now Telling the Stories of Enslaved New England residents”

3:45  Closing Remarks 

Contact Info: 

Martha J. McNamara

Director, New England Arts & Architecture Program Department of Art 

Wellesley College

106 Central Street

Wellesley, MA 02481



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