The remains of history and public memory of the past are all around us. For this assignment, I want you to visit a historical marker or monument–you might find a roadside marker on your commute or you might know about a public monument or plaque in town. Try to find something from the period of our course: that is, after 1865. In an essay of two to three pages, double-spaced, summarize the person or event that the marker or monument commemorates and describe where the marker is. Provide some answers to the following questions in your reflection: When was it erected? What organization is responsible for having placed this marker? Is it a public body (a local historical society or municipal government, perhaps) or a private group? Do a little digging about them. Where are you in space: that is, how might people come across this marker? What does the space around it suggest about how people might understand the marker, about how they might interact with it? Does the space invite quiet contemplation, for instance? I want you to think about the design of the area marker or monument and the area around it and what the organization or designers may have intended, if anything. Then do some further research and reading: is there anything important about the person or event commemorated that the marker leaves out? How do you account for this discrepancy? What kinds of choices do communities make in public commemoration?
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