Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Joni L. Kinsey
From the late nineteenth-century until the outbreak of World War II, monuments were erected in large numbers across the United States. Critics referred to the phenomenon as "statue mania," because of the number and diversity of monuments appearing in cities across the country. Women's clubs and organizations were heavily involved in this monument culture, commissioning and raising funds for monuments to America's heroes. After the Woman's Building at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition advanced the idea of a monument honoring women's work in civic space, organizations began to commission monuments to honor individual women. With few precedents to build on, both artists and patrons were challanged to create a visual language that could represent the work of real women, ideally. These monuments first followed the established form of the "hero statue," using historical figures to represent precedents for women's contemporary demands for the economic and social privileges of citizenship. Women became voters when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in 1920, but still lagged behind full economic and social equality. A brief period of experimentation in the 1920s attempted to create monuments representing the accomplishments of women's collective work, demanding recognition of the demographic at large as contributing members of the electorate. By the 1930s, "ideal" figures replaced individual identity in women's monuments, reflecting the demand to acknowledge the many women participating every day in reform work. Public monuments visually marked the narrative of women's reform work in civic space, supporting their patrons' ambition for autonomy and the rights of full citizenship in a democracy.
American art, monuments, sculpture, women's studies
xiii, 241 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 194-203).
Copyright 2013 Lindsay E. Shannon