From Monument to Memorial: War, Trauma and Memory in Central Europe’s Public Spaces

You are here

Course Information
Discipline(s): 
Art History
Terms offered: 
Spring
Credits: 
3
Language of instruction: 
English
Contact Hours: 
45
Prerequisites: 

College-level or AP course in Western and/or European History or Art History.

Additional student cost: 

None.

Description: 

This course provides a critical investigation of the history, forms, contexts, and reception of memorials in Central Europe, particuarly Vienna. The purpose of the course is not only to provide an overview of the methods for creating public memorials throughout history, but also to compare how the intentions surrounding memorials, and the expectations for the collective value of public space, have changed over time. Because European soil is deeply layered with memorials of all kinds, our particular focus will be public monuments dedicated to war and trauma. Memorials of this kind date back to antiquity, but also include so-called counter-monuments, which are some of the most important public art being created today. Even as Europe is having in many places a belated first reckoning with its Nazi experience, the wages of communism are also being at last publicly explored. There has never been a more complex moment for the creation of public memory in central Europe, nor a better launching point for such a conversation than Vienna.

Because Vienna stands at the center of Hitler’s Reich, and at the western edge of the Iron Curtain, it is uniquely poised for the exploration of two of modern history’s most laden moments. This course will include visits to local monuments that embrace the entire history of memory, in all of its complexity (the Plague Column, the Votivkirche, the Memorial to the Victims of Fascism, the Judenplatz Memorial). We will also discuss memorial sites further afield in Germany, Hungary, France, and the US.  The course will include two major site visits outside Vienna, dedicated to key historical moments. A weekend trip to Budapest will take in memorials to both the Holocaust and to the victims of Communism against the backdrop of Hungary’s current political structure. A trip to the Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz will examine the changing face of one of Europe’s best-preserved concentration camps. 

Using recent scholarship in a growing area of art historical study, this course will attempt to answer the questions: What does it mean to attempt to create public memory? Whose experiences are addressed, and how? How have the intentions of public memorials changed along with their forms? How have recent memorials attempted to address the changing shape of politics in the modern age (pluralistic, global)? How are memorial spaces selected, and how does the presence of a memorial shape public space? What kinds of groups or experiences are excluded from public memory in the process of creating memorials?

Course study of more far-flung monuments can be linked with the examination of materials within Vienna to create a balance of classroom and site visit, or theory and direct experience.

Attendance policy: 

Consistent and regular attendance and participation is required in accordance with Center policy. Students should be in class, on time, prepared, and attentive. Laptops are permitted for note-taking exclusively. Texting in class is not tolerated.

Learning outcomes: 

Upon completing this course the student should have acquired the ability to:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of the forms and purposes of European monuments from antiquity to the present day
  • characterize the theoretical framework scholars have used to describe memorials;
  • evaluate the intentions of artists who have created key European memorials and communities that have commissioned them;
  • analyze the visual and spatial rhetoric used by artists and institutions (including political forces) to turn historical locations into sites of memory;
  • describe and analyze the limitations of monuments as spaces of public memory.
Method of presentation: 

Lecture and discussion format, with excursions to see many of the works under consideration in person. Lecture centers around presentation of slides in digital form; class participation is invited, often involving discussion of relevant readings.  Where possible we will study works first-hand, in class visits to monuments in Vienna, and field trips to Budapest and Mauthausen. Readings will be posted on Moodle, as will handouts such as slide lists.

Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Site paper - 15%
  • Site Journal - 10%
  • Midterm exam - 20%
  • Analysis paper - 25%
  • Final exam - 20%
  • Class participation - 10%

Site Paper:
Writing an initial site paper (4 pages) on a local monument.

Site Journal:
Composing a semester-long journal of reactions to site visits, including independent excursions (10 pages, minimum 6 sites)

Analysis Paper:
Writing an analysis paper that involves both close looking and basic research on a monument or site (8 pages; topics to be assigned).

Midterm & Final Exam:
Taking an in-class midterm exam; taking a written final exam.

Class Participation:
Active participation in class discussions, active participation in site visits and on-site discussions & completion of all readings in time for class.

content: 
Beginning with ancient monuments, the course will address such questions as: What is the role of the public memorial through history? What kinds of forms were associated with memorials in the past, as opposed to today, and why? How have the intentions of public memorials evolved over time? How do memorials address awful suffering or terrible atrocities, given that they also have to have some public viability? How do memorials balance collective loss with individual suffering? Or, the experiences of those who experienced an event with future generations who did not? Whose narratives have been excluded from memorials, whether intentionally or not? How do contemporary memorials attempt to address the limitations of previous models? Are memorials ever truly specific to the thing they memorialize (the Holocaust, communism)? What are the limits of a memorial’s effectiveness?
Week # Content Readings (Required & Recommended)
I Introduction; What we remember

Reading: 

  • Maier, “A Surfeit of Memory? Reflections on History, Melancholy, and Denial,” pp. 136-51.
  • Miles, “The Contradictions of Public Art,” pp. 84-103
  • Judt, “From the House of the Dead, An Essay on Modern European Memory,” pp. 803-831
II

Ancient Origins to America and Austria Today: The Triumphal Arch, Vietnam War Memorial, Pestsäule, Soviet War Memorial, Votivkirche
Class excursions to Soviet War Memorial, Pestsäule, Votivkirche (in Vienna)

Reading:

  • Stewart, “The Gigantic”, On Longing, pp. 70-103.
  • Holtorf, “Megaliths, Monumentality and Memory,” pp. 45-66
  • Rowlands, "Remembering to Forget: Sublimation as Sacrifice in War Memorials," pp. 129-145.
  • Sturken, “The Wall, the Screen and the Image: The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial,” pp. 118-142.
III

Memory and the Great War
Class excursion to Museum of Military History (Vienna)
Site paper due

Reading:

  • Winter, Ch. 4, “War Memorials and the Mourning Process,” pp. 78-116.
  • Laqueur, “Memory and Naming in the Great War,” 150-167.
  • Sherman, Ch. X, “Art, Commerce, and the Production of Memory in France After World War I,” 186-214.
IV Holocaust Memorials in Germany: Eisenmann

Reading:

  • Young, “Memory and Counter-Memory:  The End of the Monument in Germany,” pp. 1-10.
  • Young, “The Countermonument: Memory against itself in Germany,” pp. 27-48.
  • Rosenfeld and Jaskot, Introduction, “Urban Space and the Nazi Past in Postwar Germany,” pp. 1-24.
  • Dekel, “Ways of looking: Observation and transformation at the Holocaust Memorial, Berlin,” pp. 71-86.
  • Carrier, “Berlin: the Monument for the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Promise of Consensus, 1988-2000,” 99-153.

Recommended:

  • Rosenfeld, “Memory and the Museum: Munich’s Struggle to Create a Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism,” pp. 163-184.
  • Kansteiner, “Losing the War, Winning the Memory Battle: The Legacy of Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust in Germany,” pp.102-147.
V

Midterm Exam

VI

Holocaust Memorials in Europe

Reading:

  • Pearce, “The Role of German Perpetrator Sites in Teaching and Confronting the Nazi Past,” pp. 168-177.
  • Liebeskind, “Trauma,” pp. 43-58.
  • Carrier, “Dialogic Monuments,” pp. 212-230.
  • Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944, pp. 132-168.

Recommended:

  • Haakenson, “(In)Visible Trauma: Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset’s Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted under the National Socialist Regime,” in Niven and Paver, eds. Memorialization in Germany since 1945, pp. 146-156.
VII

Holocaust Memorials in Vienna: “Steine der Erinnerung,” Hrdlicka, Whiteread
Class excursions to Albertinaplatz, Judenplatz, 2nd District

Reading:

  • Young, “Gestapo-Gelände,” pp. 81-90.
  • Gillman, “Cultural Awakening and Historical Forgetting: The Architecture of Memory in the Jewish Museum of Vienna and in Rachel Whiteread's 'Nameless Library,'” pp. 145-173.
  • Uhl, “From Victim Myth to Co-Responsibility Thesis: Nazi Rule, World War II, and the Holocaust in Austrian Memory,” pp. 40-73.
VIII

Monuments to Communism in Budapest and Elsewhere
Class excursion to Budapest

Reading:

  • James, Imagining Postcommunism, p. 3-20, 39-60, 113-144.

Recommended:

  • Levinson, Written in Stone: Public Monuments in Changing Societies
IX

Budapest: Shoes on the Danube Bank, Memorial to the Victims of German Invasion, Memorial to the Revolution of 1956, Statue Park

Reading:

  • James, Imagining Post-Communism, pp. 21-38, 61-81, 145-165.
  • Cole, “Turning the Places of Holocaust History into Places of Holocaust Memory. Holocaust Memorials in Budapest, Hungary, 1945-95,” pp. 271-287.
X

Preserving Concentration Camps: Auschwitz and Mauthausen
Class excursion to Mauthausen concentration camp
Analysis paper due

Reading:

  • Young, ed., Holocaust Memorials in History: The Art of Memory, pp. 169-175, 175-184, 185-187
  • Charlesworth, “Contesting places of memory: the case of Auschwitz,” pp. 579-93.
  • Young, “Austria’s Ambivalent Memory,” pp. 91-112.
XI

American Comparisons: WTC, Oklahoma City
Journals due

Reading:

  • Edward T. Linenthal, The Unfinished Bombing, pp. 15-41, 175-230.
  • Sturken “The aesthetics of absence: Rebuilding Ground Zero,” pp. 293-310.
XII Final Exam

 

Required readings: 
  • Carrier, Peter, Holocaust monuments and national memory cultures in France and Germany since 1989: the origins and political function of the Vél' d'Hiv' in Paris and the Holocaust Monument in Berlin, New York: Berghahn Books, 2005.
  • Charlesworth, Andrew, “Contesting places of memory: the case of Auschwitz,” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 12 (1994), pp. 579-93.
  • Dekel, Irit, “Ways of looking: Observation and transformation at the Holocaust Memorial, Berlin,” Memory Studies, Vol. 2, No. 4 (January, 2009), pp. 71-86.
  • Gillis, John, ed. Commemorations, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.
  • Gillman, Abigail, “Cultural Awakening and Historical Forgetting: The Architecture of Memory in the Jewish Museum of Vienna and in Rachel Whiteread's 'Nameless Library,'” New German Critique, No. 93 (Autumn, 2004), pp. 145-173.
  • Holtorf, Cornelius, “Megaliths, Monumentality and Memory,” Archaeological Review of Cambridge 14 (1997): 45-66
  • Hornstein, Shelley, and Florence Jacobowitz, eds., Image and Remembrance: Representation of the Holocaust, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003.
  • James, Beverly A., Imagining Post-Communism. Visual Narratives of Hungary’s 1956 Revolution, College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2005.
  • Jarausch, Konrad H. and Michael Geyer, eds., Shattered Past: Reconstructing German Histories. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.
  • Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, NY: Penguin Books, 2006.
  • Thomas Laqueur, “Memory and Naming in the Great War,” in Commemorations, John R. Gillis, ed., Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 150-167.
  • Lebow, Richard, Wulf Kansteiner, Claudio Fugo, eds., The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006.
  • Linenthal, Edward T. The Unfinished Bombing, Cambridge, UK: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Maier, Charles S., “A Surfeit of Memory? Reflections on History, Melancholy, and Denial,” History andMemory, Vol. 5 (1993), pp. 136-51.
  • Miles, Malcolm, “The Contradictions of Public Art,” Art, Space and the City, London: Taylor & Francis,1997, pp. 84-103
  • Rosenfeld, Gavriel D. and Paul B. Jaskot, eds., Beyond Berlin: Twelve German Cities Confront the Nazi Past, Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 2007.
  • Niven, Bill and Chloe Paver, eds., Memorialization in Germany since 1945, Basingstoke, UK; NY: PalgraveMacmillan, 2009.
  • Rousso, Henry, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944, Cambridge, MA:Harvard University Press, 1991.
  • Rowlands, Michael, "Remembering to Forget: Sublimation as Sacrifice in War Memorials," In Adrian 
  • Forty and Susanne Kuechler, eds., The Art of Forgetting, Oxford and London: Berg, 1996, pp. 129-145.
  • Sherman, Daniel J., “Art, Commerce, and the Production of Memory in France After World War I,” inJohn Gillis, ed., Commemorations, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 186-214.
  • Stewart, Susan. “The Gigantic.” In On Longing, 1993.
  • Sturken, Marita, “The Wall, the Screen and the Image: The Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial, RepresentationsVol. 35 (1991), pp. 118-142.
  • Sturken, Marita, “The aesthetics of absence: Rebuilding Ground Zero,” American Ethnologist, Vol. 13 (2004), pp. 293-310.
  • Uhl, Heidemaria, “From Victim Myth to Co-Responsibility Thesis: Nazi Rule, World War II, and the Holocaust in Austrian Memory,” in Lebow et al, eds., The Politics of Memory in Postwar Europe, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006, pp.40-73.
  • Young, James E. ed., Holocaust Memorials in History: The Art of Memory. NY: Prestel, 1994.
  • Young, James E., “Memory and Counter-Memory:  The End of the Monument in Germany,” Harvard Design Magazine, No. 9 (2009), pp. 1-10.
  • Young, James E., The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meaning, New Haven: YaleUniversity Press, 1993.
  • Winter, Jay, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.