Sculpting the citizen soldier: reproduction and national memory, 1865-1917

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University of Delaware
This dissertation examines the development of the citizen soldier monument: the profusion of figures, obelisks, and columns that appeared after the Civil War in honor of the war veteran. I explore the citizen soldier monument in an effort to understand the relations between sculptural form, the formation of national memory, and the marketing of multiplied art in the late nineteenth century. Engaging with the work of scholars of Civil War memory outside the field of art history, including David Blight, John R. Neff, Drew Gilpin Faust, and Eric T. Dean, I offer a new interpretation of the importance of the citizen soldier monument in the American landscape. I propose that the citizen soldier monument is a phenomenon catering to the memorial needs of a culture struggling with meaning in the wake of America's first modern war. In this context, the soldier monument, so often interpreted as lacking originality, became an emblem for the enormity of Civil War death, the connection between local loss and national memory, and the tastes of a public trained to experience sculpture through plaster casts and other copies. In considering why these statues look the way they do, and how they came to be so popular, I propose that sculptural form is key to understanding the creation of national memory in the wake of the Civil War. In Chapter Two, I investigate the relationship between the monumental soldier, the reality of postwar life for the veteran, and the commemoration of the dead in the context of the nascent monument industry in the former Union states. Chapter Three considers how Southern Confederate monuments, using the same classical iconographies of victory employed in the North, negotiated the delicate ground of memorializing a lost cause during Reconstruction. In Chapter Four, I read Daniel Chester French's Minuteman as an emblem of Civil War commemoration, placing the Minuteman alongside the heightened rhetoric of Civil War reconciliation encouraged by the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. And finally, Chapter Five examines the Spanish-American War, where copies of Hikers created by Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson and Allen George Newman were marketed by prestigious foundries, mirroring the global imperial concerns of the war in the standardization of production.