“Why can’t we just move on? The past is the past, so why keep bringing it up?“: Deconstructing Mythological Sites of Memory in the U.S.
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik
Explaining the importance of the EJI Legacy Museum and National Memorial, Bryan Stevenson states, “Our nation’s history of racial injustice casts a shadow across the American landscape. This shadow cannot be lifted until we shine the light of truth on the destructive violence that shaped our nation, traumatized people of color, and compromised our commitment to the rule of law and to equal justice.” Monuments, specifically plantation houses and Civil War reenactments, construct narratives of American history that obscure the shadow of racial injustice that covers America. Authors and artists from the nineteenth century through the present have worked to counter these false narratives of American history. This presentation will examine some of the ways that these creators bring the shadow of racial injustice into the light in literature, music, film, and visual art by showing how we need to reconsider sites of memory if America ever hopes to move forward from its long history of racial repression. I will discuss how these creations work in correlation with physical sites of memory such as the Whitney Plantation, the EJI Legacy Museum and National Memorial, and even sites like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello to disrupt and counter the false narratives perpetuated by sites such as the White House of the Confederacy, Oak Alley Plantation, and the Shack Up Inn. Ultimately, my presentation will answer the question countless American students ask when studying American literature and encountering narratives that differ from the myths that continue to populate the American psyche: “Why can’t we just move on? The past is the past, so why keep bringing it up?“
Dr. Matthew Teutsch
University of Bergen
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alexa Weik von Mossner (Alexa [dot] WeikvonMossner [at] aau [dot] at)