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Kirk Savage delivers "Beyond the Victim Monument" for Comini Lecture Series

Lecture Given October 8, 2009 at the Sixth Floor Museum

Dr. Kirk Savage spoke at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza on Thursday, October 8 at 5:30 p.m. as part of the Meadows School’s Comini Art History Lecture Series.  Savage is a professor and chair of art history at the University of Pittsburgh, where he’s been teaching for almost twenty years. He earned his B.A. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley. Savage is the author of Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America (Princeton University Press, 1997), a book that explores the transformative effect of the Civil War on the subject and purpose of our nation’s monuments.  

Dr. Janis Bergman-Carton, associate professor and chair of art history at SMU, stated that Dr. Savage’s lecture, entitled Beyond the Victim Monument, would focus on “the achievements and pitfalls of the ‘victim monument,’ a 20th-century monument type that has come to rival and perhaps even supplant traditional hero monuments. The talk will examine the origins of the victim monument, its spread and its implications for the future of memorialization.”  The free lecture was sponsored by the Division of Art History and the Human Rights Education Program at SMU, the Dallas Holocaust Museum and the Sixth Floor Museum.

The victim monument has largely replaced the classic monument depicting war heroes or presidents.  These hero monuments evoke memories of successful battles and proud moral victories. But victim monuments serve as reminders of tragic events and their casualties, proposing an entirely new way of addressing history.  The change in monument types over time is very evident in the nation’s capital.  Savage will talk about some of the monuments in D.C. , a topic he discusses at length in his new book, Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (U. California Press, 2009). 

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