CoursesAmerican Monuments: Designs for the Future
HIST 164-001

American Monuments: Designs for the Future

The 2020 protests about monuments in Philadelphia and across the nation have exposed this truth: Arguments over the past are arguments about the future. This place-based course examines local and national public memory in relation to the built environment. Students will learn about the making of the U.S. memorial landscape in the long nineteenth century, its remaking in the twentieth century, and its possible futures in the (un)making.

Thursdays, 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM

Initial lectures and readings will cover a variety of commemorative structures and practices, from the permanent and the material to the ephemeral and the virtual. The instructor will provide international, national, and local context, including an overview of Philadelphia history. But the heart of the course will be group projects based on deep engagement with sources. Working in teams, students will analyze memorial landscapes, past and present, of Greater Philadelphia, of West Philly, and of Penn’s campus. Your final assignment will be a proposal—or an actual staging—of a “memory work” of your own design. The overall goal of the course is to join the academic and the civic, town and gown.

portrait is of Najee S. by Amy Sherald

Working Syllabus

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