While several Centre College students travel hundreds of miles away during CentreTerm, a group of 27 students, in Assistant Professor of Art History and Humanities Amy Frederick’s course “Monuments and Memorials,” traveled over 900 miles throughout the three-week January term without even leaving Kentucky.
“I proposed this course in the spring of 2017, when I began to struggle with the lack of national attention to the visual power of monuments and memorials,” Frederick said. “Each monument or memorial is a product of a specific historical moment and is produced with specific goals in mind. I wanted to explore that idea—that the message of monuments is not universal—through a CentreTerm course.”
The students combined their course discussion and site visits with their reading from “Written in Stone” by Sanford Levinson and “Memorial Mania” by Erika Doss, as well as other articles related to the topic. They also watched two documentaries: “The Last Conquistador on the Juan de Onate equestrian sculpture in El Paso” and “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.”
As part of the course, the students also had to do a presentation on a monument of their choice that was not located in Kentucky. For their final project, they researched a Kentucky monument or memorial and had to incorporate a visual and written component in their final products.
During their travels, the students kept a journal of their experiences and what they learned at each location.
When it came down to deciding where to go, Frederick first did a search on Civil War monuments in Kentucky, knowing those sites would be of interest to students.
“From that list, I narrowed to ones that would allow us to have certain conversations about a variety of topics—the production or materials of the monument, for example, or the site of the monument or a local controversy surrounding the monument,” she added. “I also wanted to include visits to the birthplace of both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis to have students compare the historical narratives and visual markers of both sites.
“I then tried to find monuments unique to Kentucky; for example, we visited the World’s Largest Crucifix (possibly) in Bardstown and the Kentucky Stonehenge in Munfordville,” she continued.
Altogether, the class traveled a total of 962 miles together throughout CentreTerm.
“My favorite parts of the course were the many conversations we had along the way,” Frederick said. “From knowledgeable guides at the historic sites, to Michael Hughes and Mary Girard of Danville, to DeBraun Thomas and Russell Allen of the Take Back Cheapside movement in Lexington, to Dr. Richard Schein at the University of Kentucky, these outside speakers shared their time and passion with us. They greatly enriched the course.”
Frederick added that she was able to learn from her students during their final projects and hopes that they will continue to “engage in conversations about the significance of monuments and memorials, and will carrying with them a deeper understanding of the challenges, complexities and emotions surrounding how we visually tell our history.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
February 2, 2018