This lecture takes a very particular look at the relation between democracy and militarism – two seemingly antithetical concepts that are nevertheless yoked together in the national identity we know as America. There is no better place than a soldier cemetery to ponder why, and at what cost.
Here we examine the evolution of two distinctive soldier lots dedicated originally to the Union dead of the Civil War, located side by side in a beautiful park-like cemetery in one of the most important industrial arsenals of democracy, Pittsburgh, Pa. Through a small-scale examination of their visible form and their hidden histories, we will arrive at some broad-scale conclusions about the cult of sacrifice and service that has become embedded, seemingly, in the DNA of the USA.
Kirk Savage, professor of History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh, has written extensively on war memorials over the past thirty years. His most recent work on the subject appears in a volume he edited, The Civil War in Art and Memory (National Gallery of Art and Yale University Press, 2016).
This event is part of "The Ethics of Democracy" Series. “The Ethics of Democracy” is a university-wide series of events during the winter and spring. Sponsored by the McCoy Center for Ethics in Society, the Department of Art & Art History, the Department of Music, and Stanford Law School, the series explores the ethics of democracy from the perspective of scholars, practitioners, and civil leaders across the country.