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Art Historian to Discuss Post 9/11 Memorial Mania

FreedomTower.jpgDr. Erika Doss, chair of the Department of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame, will present two lectures on modern memorials and the effect on national identity in April. Both lectures are free and open to the public.
On Thurs., April 3 at 5 p.m. in the Vince Gill Room in the Curb Event Center, Doss will present “Memorial Mania: Fear, Anxiety and Contemporary American Monuments.” This lecture will focus on the frenzy surrounding memorialization in contemporary America. “Memorials are the physical and visual embodiment of public feelings and emotions,” said Doss. “The spectacular profusion of memorials reveals a contemporary investment in experiencing history, especially histories of trauma and tragedy.” Concentrating on recent 9/11 memorials, this talk considers how memorial mania has altered the style and substance of American public life and the assumptions of contemporary national identity.
“The Gates: Memory and Civic Identity in Post 9/11 New York” will be presented on Fri., April 4 in room 117 of the Leu Center for the Visual Arts. In February 2005, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude unveiled The Gates in New York’s Central Park. A temporary art project featuring some 7,500 bright orange fabric sculptures spread out along 23 miles of pedestrian pathways in the park, The Gates was an incredibly popular project, visited by some four million tourists during its brief two-week installation. Although dismissed by some critics as light-weight sensationalism, this talk considers the dimensions and dynamics of popular public art in contemporary America, especially after 9/11.
Doss’s primary teaching and research interests lie in the areas of modern and contemporary American art history and material/visual cultures. She is the author of numerous publications including Benton, Pollock, and the Politics of Modernism: From Regionalism to Abstract Expressionism (1991), Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (1995), Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image (1999), Looking at Life Magazine (editor, 2001), and Twentieth-Century American Art (2002). She is currently writing the books Memorial Mania: Self, Nation, and the Culture of Commemoration in Contemporary America and Picturing Faith: Twentieth-Century American Artists and Issues of Religion.

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