Profs & Pints Richmond: Monumental ControversiesVisit Website
Profs and Pints Richmond presents: “Monumental Controversies,” with Fred Bohrer, professor of art and archaeology emeritus at Hood College, art historian, and author of the website Monumental Anxiety: An Anti-Guide to the Monuments of Washington, D.C.
American cities are filled with monuments and commemorative spaces, which generally serve mainly as a sort of backdrop of urban life. In the past few years, though, many public monuments in the South and elsewhere have faced new scrutiny, criticism, and even direct attack.
Chief among such controversies is the current battle over Confederate monuments, which can be found in every corner of the nation. Richmond’s Monument Avenue represents an especially fascinating and crucial example of the positions and the potential at play. But many other controversies also play out around monuments and questions of sexual orientation, disability, ideology, social class, and other issues—sometimes mainly through their attempts at avoiding them.
What is at stake in the new battle over monuments? How and why do monuments today have the power to inspire such vehement passions among both defenders and detractors? And just why are there so many monuments in the first place?
This talk is for anyone who has wondered about the prominent place of monuments in cities and towns, the nature of historical memory, and how things such as race, gender, sexuality, and cultural identity are inscribed in America’s public landscape. Along with tackling questions that have been raised about some monuments, it also will bring a larger historical perspective on the varieties of monuments and their development. It will introduce audience members to fundamental tools for understanding and analyzing monuments. We’ll look in detail at many nearby objects, both famous and obscure, as well as other monuments throughout the country.
Professor Bohrer has for more than two decades written books and articles examining how tangible objects—paintings, photographs, sculptures, ancient artifacts, museum displays and more—both represent and obscure public histories. You’ll walk out of his talk better equipped to take part in this crucial aspect of civic life. (Advance tickets: $12. Door: $15, or $13 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later. Please allow yourself time to place any orders and get seated and settled in.)
Image: Opposing protesters at the base of the Robert E. Lee monument on Richmond’s Monument Avenue in 2017. Photo by Mobilus In Mobili / Creative Commons.