By John Coski
Ahead of our 2017 Symposium: Lightning Rods for Controversy, we asked the lecturers why it is important to study Civil War monuments and how they got started studying them.
Timothy S. Sedore is professor of English at the City University of New York, Bronx Community College. He holds a doctorate in English Education, a Masters in Religious Studies and Masters of Divinity in Theological Studies. He has published and spoken widely on rhetoric and language, especially as they relate to the memory of the American Civil War. He is the author of An Illustrated Guide to Virginia’s Confederate Monuments (2011) and the forthcoming Tennessee Civil War Monuments: The Illustrated Field Guide, and is finishing a similar study of Civil War monuments in Mississippi.
Why study monuments?
Collectively, Civil War monuments pose a vast, fragmented, complex historic text: words, breath, image and landscape. The Civil War monuments tell us this: it’s not over. The conflict is still palpable; the effects are still present; it continues to reverberate.
How did you start studying monuments?
I began this study some years ago, at Winchester, Virginia’s Stonewall Cemetery, when I was introduced to the idea of understanding the Civil War monument as a multimedia text to be interpreted: words, images, medium (such as granite, bronze or marble) on a landscape. I wanted to probe these texts for their multifarious meanings—as a distinctive rhetoric.