"No Offense to Robert Musil, But... The continuing relevance of monuments." Public Seminar, 2018.

Samantha Oliver

This essay explores the variety of ways that monuments have been invoked in media and public discourse by discussing the different ways that monuments are used by and within media coverage. While monuments (and monumental controversies) have long been popular objects of media fascination, recent events ranging from the removal of Soviet statuary in Ukraine during the recent Crimean crisis to the emergent and ongoing protests of Civil War monuments in the United States have put monuments front and center in media and public discourse. Specifically, this article draws on contemporary examples to break down four different ways that the media and the public orient themselves towards monuments in media coverage, with an emphasis on how we talk with, about, and towards monuments. These orientations include 1) monuments as subjects; 2) monuments as proxies; 3) monuments as reference points; and 4) monuments as background. Readers of this article would comes away with a more critical understanding of how monuments feature in media coverage, and how these different orientations can shape understandings about contemporary events and political/cultural discourses.