Heading to SHEAR 2018? Check out “Stones and Bones”!

American citizens in the new nation took the memory of their Revolutionary War dead very seriously.  How seriously?  To learn more, join us on Friday afternoon from 2 to 3:45 pm for one of the best-titled sessions at #SHEAR18, “Stones and Bones: Negotiating Memory and Politics in Early American Monuments.”

SHEAR panel info

We are running this panel slightly differently than the traditional model of three 20-minute papers, a comment from the commenter(s), and wrapping up with Q&A.  The panelists have circulated longer manuscripts to Professor Boonshoft and Professor Schocket (what I submitted, for example, ended up being article-length).  The panelists are going to give shorter formal presentations of about 10 minutes, followed by an “interview” with the commenter and chair.  We hope that this format will make for a more dynamic conversation, so join us for this experiment!

The close-up picture of the marble obelisk (above) was taken at the base of the (completed) Bunker Hill Monument a few years ago.  My paper, “The Fruits of Women’s Industry and Ingenuity: Politics, Gender, and the Bunker Hill Monument,” discusses how New England women intervened when the monument sat languishing, only half-completed, for more than a decade.  In early 1830, funding for the monument had run out, and it was unclear how to raise the $50,000 necessary to finish it.  Local magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale called on New England women to donate but a quarter each to raise the enormous sum.  To her surprise, her campaign incited sharp criticism of the idea that women could or should raise the necessary funds when men could not.  My paper explores the backlash against Hale’s fundraising campaign and how this episode shaped her later rhetoric about women, nationalism, and the public sphere.

I am so pleased to be sharing this panel with two fabulous early career scholars as well.  James Wils will discuss his research on the popular commemorative discourse from 1770 to 1800.  Dr. Jamie Brummitt, who just defended her dissertation this spring, will tell us more about her research on Protestant relics, particularly the collection and uses of George Washington’s body and tomb.

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