American Art and Visual Culture Seminar: Annelise Madsen, Stanford University and Erika Doss, University of Notre Dame | Newberry

American Art and Visual Culture Seminar: Annelise Madsen, Stanford University and Erika Doss, University of Notre Dame

Friday, October 16, 2009

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Center for American History and Culture Programs

“Performing Progress as Art and History at the Pageant of Illinois (1909)
Annelise K. Madsen, Stanford University

At Northwestern University in 1909, hundreds of area residents staged a theatrical performance called a pageant, enacting a history of the state through episodes that combined fine art, drama, dancing, and costuming.  This paper examines the Pageant of Illinois to show how civic artists became Progressive reformers.  Pageant leaders shaped contemporary debates on citizenship, Americanism, and education through monumental pictures of a local, shared past.  While pageant participants vitalized a narrative of white male triumph, they also disrupted this official vision through their playacting.  Focusing on the pageant’s visual culture, I recover how Evanston’s communities negotiated Progressivism in aesthetic terms.

“Founder’s Statues, Indian Wars, and Contested Public Spaces: Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s The Puritan and Anger’s Memory in Springfield, Massachusetts.”
Erika Doss, University of Notre Dame

Dedicated in 1887 in Springfield, Massachusetts, The Puritan is an oversized bronze statue of a stern and even menacing figure clutching a huge Bible.  Commissioned as a memorial to Deacon Samuel Chapin (1595-1675), one of Springfield’s founding fathers, The Puritan was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and erected in a small urban park.  In 1899, however, after repeated instances of vandalism, the statue was moved “uphill” to Springfield’s cultural quadrangle.  Contextualizing The Puritan’s public reception, this paper further examines Saint-Gaudens’s sense of the moralizing contradictions and devastating consequences of American historical memory, and the similarly conflicted circumstances of his personal life.

Commentator: Sarah Burns, Indiana University