"Gardens of Commemoration: From Rome to America" - Victoria Austen, Robert A. Oden, Jr. Postdoctoral Fellow for Innovation in the Humanities and Classics, Carleton College

Mar 25, 2024

05:00 PM

Art Building West, 240

141 North Riverside Drive, Iowa City, IA 52246

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Throughout history, gardens have come to be understood as a powerful setting in which societies embed a series of beliefs, myths, and fictions. A garden may well be a physical place, but it also has the potential to transcend its physicality through the actions that take place there and the meanings these actions produce. However, as John Dixon Hunt (2004) has argued, we tend to be drawn more towards origin stories of gardens, focusing on the initiation of sites and the original designs or ideological aims of the architect, rather than later (and potentially divergent) experiences. Indeed, gardens provide a particularly interesting, perhaps more ambiguous, object of reception study since their ephemeral nature inherently invites a multiplicity of interpretations. In this spirit, this talk will highlight the use of garden space in acts of commemoration from two seemingly disparate cultural and temporal contexts — ancient Rome and contemporary America — in order to consider the ways in which gardens mediate between past and present, real and imaginary, and natural and monumental. 

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