Iconography, Memory, and Space: Sites of Memory (and Forgetting) of Willamette University

With national controversies over Confederate memorials raging, I plan to examine sites of memory and forgetting on Willamette’s campus. I aim to survey sites including commemorative plaques, gardens, statues, and named spaces on campus (buildings, fields, etc.), asking who or what is being memorialized and what were the processes at work that led to the choice to honor these particular individuals, groups, or ideas. At the same time, through reading histories of Willamette and examining primary sources in the archives, I hope to identify groups or individuals who have been overlooked in our history.

The long-term aim of the project is twofold. First, the project will lay the groundwork for a history course that I plan to offer in 2019-2020 on the memorial controversy, both national and local. Second, I hope to prompt a thoughtful campus discussion of who has been memorialized on campus, what ideas or actions led to their memorialization, and how these mesh with current campus sensibilities and values. In addition, as one of the leaders in the effort to memorialize the Japanese American students unjustly forced to leave campus in 1942, I am interested in starting a campus conversation about overlooked individuals and groups whose experiences speak to our 21st century mission and values, and about ways of including them in our collective memory.

Image of Ellen Eisenberg

Ellen Eisenberg

Dwight & Margaret Lear Professor of American History
Willamette University

Liberal Arts Research Collaborative

Address
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
Phone
503-370-6737

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