History | American Sacred Space
H650 | 3881 | Linenthal

A portion of the above class reserved for majors
Above class open to graduates only
Above class meets with AMST-G 620

“Tell me the landscape in which you live and I will tell you who you
are," writes Ortega y Gasset. In this graduate colloquium we will
examine how elements of the American natural and historic landscape
are consecrated—made sacred--through processes of veneration,
defilement, and redefinition. Through a wide variety of case studies—
from sites of natural wonder, battlefields, overseas embassies,
sites of natural disaster and mass murder, popular “historic”
tourist and pilgrimage sites, and burial sites, for example—we will
appreciate the multi-disciplinary insights of scholars interested in
writing  “biographies” of sacred space. We will investigate the
cultural functions of such sites—rituals of inclusion and exclusion,
physical emplacements of clashing national narratives, for example—
and complicate our understanding of the important term “the
sacred.”  Required readings may include: Kenneth Foote, "Shadowed
Ground: America’s Landscape of Violence and Tragedy"; selections
from: David Chidester and Edward Linenthal, eds., "American Sacred
Space"; Jim Weeks, "Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and An American
Shrine"; James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton, eds., "Slavery and
Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory"; Oren Baruch
Stier and J. Shawn Landres, eds., "Religion, Violence, Memory, and
Place"; Mike Davis, "Dead Cities and Ecology of Fear"; Ron
Robin, "Enclaves of America: The Rhetoric of American Political
Architecture Abroad, 1900-1965"; Mark Monmonier, "From Squaw Tit to
Whorehouse Meadow: How Maps Name, Claim, and Inflame"; and John F.
Sears, "Sacred Places: American Tourist Attractions in the 19th

Course requirements include substantive class participation, short
presentations, and short papers. Each colloquium participant will
also construct their own outline for a course on “American Sacred
Space,” which will include an annotated bibliography. This project
is designed to be an explicit critique of the current course.