Erika Doss

University of Notre DameErica Doss poster

Memorial Mania: Issues of Commemoration and Affect in Contemporary America

Thursday, March 20, 2008
7:00 p.m. – Stern Center, Great Room

Concentrating especially on recent 9/11 memorials, war memorials, and on issues such as fear, terror, security, and tribute. This program considers how “memorial mania” has altered the style and substance of America’s contemporary public sphere and assumptions of national identity.

Issue in Context

Since the Revolutionary War, the building of American nationhood has involved the design and presentation of war memorials. The memorials that have been built to commemorate the sacrifices of soldiers from the Civil War to the Vietnam War have taken on new cultural orientations and styles. In the wake of 9/11, there has been great passion for memorial design, and heated disagreements about how to best honor those lost in the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Arguments about how to make use of the land that once held the great monuments of New York’s financial district represent a new generation of memorial mania. Professor Doss will address the influences of historical perspectives on the planning, organizing, and constructing of memorials. She will also discuss how fear, terror, security, and the explosion of modern art influence American memorial taste and national identity.

About the Speaker

Professor Erika Doss is the recipient of the 98th Distinguished Research Lectureship from the Council on Research and Creative Work in the Graduate Program at the University of Colorado. She was also the 2005-2006 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. An expert on American Culture and Modern Art, Professor Doss has studied recent developments of tastes in regards to memorials and commemorations in The United States.
Professor Doss is a Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado. She obtained her Ph.D in art history and American studies from the University of Minnesota. A former director of the American studies program at U. Colorado, Doss is also a well published author and editor. Her recent publications include: Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press), “Public Art Controversy: Cultural Expression and Civic Debate” Americans for the Arts Monographs Series (Washington, DC: Americans for the Arts), and Memorial Mania: Self, Nation, and the Culture of Commemoration in Contemporary America.

Suggested Readings

Twentieth-Century American Art (2002)
Looking at Life Magazine (editor, 2001)
Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image (1999)
Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (1995)
Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (1991)
She is currently writing the book Memorial Mania: Self, Nation, and the Culture of Commemoration in Contemporary America.