Monuments, Museums and Murals: Preservation, Commemoration and American Identity

Hosted By:

Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University

Department of English Language and Literature

Çanakkale, Turkey

May 15–17, 2019

The American Civil War may have ended in 1865, but in many respects it is still being fought today, over 150 years later. Ongoing battles over the Confederate flag and the recent Confederate monument controversy suggest that many of the wounds of the war, especially those related to race, class and gender, are still far from being healed. Clearly, what led to the Civil War is still dividing the nation: Americans are not only grappling with a future vision for the country, but are also struggling with the past. What are considered by some to be markers of cultural heritage are for many others painful symbols of the violent history of the United States, a nation that was built on the exploitation of African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans and other minority groups. As William Faulkner expresses in his 1951 novel Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It lingers like a ghost over the present and the future, haunting Americans and urging them to come to terms with its countless meanings and manifestations.

If “we are what we remember” then who are Americans exactly? Is what we remember just as important as how we remember it? American identity is closely invested in commemoration; national holidays, for example, construct a common past in a country of immigrants without a common past. They help make sense out of distant events, reinforce collective “values” in the present, and theoretically map out a shared future. Yet, those aspects of “history” that are (or are not) chosen for display in a museum, preservation in an archive, depiction in a work of art, or narration in a work of literature also speak volumes about a nation and its people. They remind us that there are always many competing, and often contradictory, histories, and that the past is truly never dead.

ASAT invites the submission of individual abstracts, panels, and workshop/roundtable proposals that explore all aspects of this theme. Possible subthemes may include, but are not limited to:

Museums, monuments and murals in American literature
Preservation and commemoration in American literature
(Re)membering, revising, (re)writing, (re)enacting and (re)creating
Life writing, (self)documentation, archives
The politics of commemoration and memory preservation
Public history, art history, museology, archeology
Living museums, virtual museums, open-air museums
Cultural heritage sites, village restorations, museum shops
Fairs, expositions, installations and exhibits
Travel, tourism, leisure and cuisine
Creators, narrators and interpreters
Educators, activists, curators and benefactors
Audience (encoding, decoding, re/presenting)
(Un)intentional forgetting, cultural/historical amnesia
“Authenticity,” (in)accuracy, perception and reality
Alternative sites, countermonuments, cemeteries, thanatourism
The sacred and profane; myth and legend; memorial culture
Ekphrasis, words and images, semiotics, symbols
(Social) media, film and visual culture
Rituals, rites of passage, holidays and celebrations
Parades, marches and ceremonies
Material culture, objects, artifacts, antiques
Race, class, ethnicity, gender and identity politics
Controversy, protest and confrontation
Transnational, transcultural and comparative approaches

Proposals should be sent to the American Studies Association of Turkey ( and should consist of a 250–300 word abstract, five keywords, and a short (200 word) biography for each participant. The time allowance for presentations is 20 minutes. An additional 10 minutes will be provided for discussion.

Submission deadline: December 1, 2018

Selected papers will be included in a special issue of the Journal of American Studies of Turkey (JAST) based on the conference theme.

More information will be posted on the website as it becomes available: