In the weeks leading up to the 2017 Flexner Lectures, we're highlighting the many engaging courses being offered in conjunction with Brown University Professor Bonnie Honig's residency and lectures. "Topics in Contemporary Art: Strategies of Remembrance: Publics, Politics and the Art of Memory," is taught by Professor of History of Art Lisa Saltzman.
How does a country commemorate its past?
This seemed a reasonable structuring gambit for a Flexner seminar inspired by the work of Bonnie Honig, particularly given my own work on the ethics and aesthetics of cultural memory. Attuned as I am to those historical events that at once demand yet defy the conventional forms of representation, I was struck, in Honig’s Antigone, Interrupted, by her deft interventions into a logic and language of mourning, and in turn, into the politics and practices of commemoration.
But now, in the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, this question seems especially urgent.
And in turn, even as we consider a range of historical contexts and commemorative projects from around the globe, we will begin with the question of Confederate monuments in this country. And, no doubt, as it inevitably does, the concerns of the present will inflect our engagement with the past, even if that past is the received history of memorials, monuments and commemorative practices in the modern era.
Established in honor of Mary Flexner, a Bryn Mawr graduate of the class of 1895, the Flexner Lectureship has brought some of the world’s best-known humanists to campus for a brief residency. In addition to their public lectures, holders of the Mary Flexner Lectureship often lead seminars or discussions with undergraduate and graduate students. By agreement with Bryn Mawr, the Flexner Lectures are subsequently published by Harvard University Press.