Dr. Renee Ater explores private and public meaning in Civil War monuments in Washington DC

Photo Credit: Jennifer Strychasz

Dr. Renée Ater, the department’s Americanist, recently completed an essay for the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition catalog, Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial.

In her catalog essay, entitled “Commemorating Black Soldiers: The African American Civil War Memorial in Washington, DC,” Dr. Ater evaluates the commission and creation of the African American Civil War Memorial (1998), in order to investigate issues related to monument building and remembrance and commemoration in public space. Closely looking at the geographical location of the memorial, she examines the way it dialogues with other Civil War monuments in the city and its complicated artistic reference to the Shaw Memorial. She argues that the African American Civil War Memorial seeks to rectify the perceived omission from the historical record of African American participation in the American Civil War and to encourage visitors to create meaning out of the past in the present.

For additional information on the exhibition,