Paper Battlefields: Remembering and Forgetting the Stakes of War

Vance Byrd
Grinnell College
Associate Professor and Chair of German Studies
March 23, 2021
4:30 – 6:00 pm
Livestream Zoom
Drawing of a scene from "The Battle of Atlanta" horseman running to a charge

Focusing on Friedrich Wilhelm Heine’s and Theodore R. Davis’s engagement with nineteenth-century illustrated periodicals and painted panoramas, Professor Byrd’s lecture explores the interconnected visual commemorative cultures of the American Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War. The illustrated press cultivated ways of seeing the aftermath of military conflict that paved the way for engagement with the recent past in panorama rotundas, enormous circular oil paintings, and on former battlefields. Their universalizing panoramic aesthetic, however, has been contested. Kara Walker’s reworking of the panoramic form pushes us to reckon with racism, gender, and sexuality in this trans-Atlantic history of commemorative culture.