US memorial culture: a critical analysis of American history and memory as represented in US monuments

Skey, Hayley (2016) US memorial culture: a critical analysis of American history and memory as represented in US monuments. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    American memorial culture has become central to the preservation and construction of national identity. The main purpose of this dissertation is to explore the complexity of memorialisation within American culture, primarily focussing upon the level of control it possesses over shaping national identity. This ultimately explains why memorial culture is such a prominent aspect of everyday American life. This study covers the role of memorials in preserving the past, creating a sense of place for individuals, educating the citizenry and serving as a gathering place to grieve, interpret and remember. However, the key findings of this study have revealed that memorials play a significantly large role in manipulating the past in order to alter future interpretations of the event or person it honours. This dissertation argues that the National Mall only reflects America’s desired perceptions of itself, through the examination of the collective national narrative of strength, authority and liberty.
    However, this research topic is highly controversial and problematic to discuss. This is firstly due to the individualistic nature of memorial culture, often resulting in strongly divisive opinions amongst historians and visitors. Furthermore, debates regarding the accuracy of American memorialisation remain controversially prominent within American culture. Secondly, the political nature of memorialisation results in its frequent development in order to meet new social, cultural and political demands. This dissertation contributes to the field of study as there is not extensive historical writings on the issue. The results of this study contradict the assumption that memorials are unchanging and emphasise their constant relevance. Research for this study was largely carried out through secondary source analysis, in both media and print form. In addition, a research trip to Washington, D.C and New York City provided invaluable primary research relating to the literature.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Languages and Area Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2016 14:16
    Last Modified: 17 Oct 2016 14:16

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