As part of Lewis University’s Art of Memory series, Dr. Patricia Mooney-Melvin, associate professor of history at Loyola University in Chicago, will present “Monumental Memory: Ethnicity in Chicago” at 2 p.m. on April 29 in Room AS-158-A (A-133) on the University’s main campus in Romeoville.
Monuments represent objects around which memory coalesces and their existence reveals a multilayered past. During the waning years of the 19th century and well into the 20th, ethnic statuary appeared in Chicago’s parks. The construction of these granite and bronze ethnics, who to the modern eye often seem oddly placed, reflected the wishes of urban ethnic communities to be situated in their city’s memorial landscape. This statuary served both a commemorative and didactic purpose.
As a touchstone for ethnic memory, these statues offered immigrant communities the opportunity to honor something important in their past. At the same time, however, these statues represented a very physical way to assert that ethnic groups were a part of the larger Chicago community. Their existence in Chicago’s parks reflects the often tenuous balance between the retention of cultural identity and the pressure to assimilate into American society, the reality of the one and the many played out in physical form.
Dr. Patricia Mooney-Melvin earned her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. She served as the long time director of the Public History program at Loyola University Chicago and is currently serving as the Associate Dean of the Graduate School. Dr. Dennis H. Cremin, assistant professor of history and director of the Lewis University History Center: Urban, Cultural and Catholic History of the Upper Midwest commented, “Dr. Mooney-Melvin was my dissertation director and brings a great deal of passion to her work in Urban and Public History. I owe so much of my own approach to history to her teaching. She was a wonderful choice as the Vince Howard Lecture and the concluding speaker for the year long Art of Memory symposium.”
This lecture is also the annual Lewis University History Department’s Vince Howard Memorial Lecture. The late Vince Howard was the former chair of the History Department and had designated funds for a lecture series.
The “Art of Memory: Collective and Individual” is a two semester presentation on the theme of memory as examined through various liberal arts disciplines. Faculty members in the departments of English, Theology, History, Psychology, Philosophy, Music and Communication have made presentations relating to memory in their fields. There is a concurrent film series hosted by Lewis University professor of English Dr. Christopher Wielgos. The student literary magazine, “Windows” is also using memory as the theme for the year.
The Art of Memory series is presented by the Lewis University History Center: Urban, Cultural and Catholic History of the Upper Midwest, which supports a biannual symposium. It is also a part of Lewis University’s Arts & Ideas Program, providing cultural and educational programming for students and the community. These events are free of charge and open to the public. For further information, please contact Dr. Ewa Bacon at (815) 836-5568.
A Catholic university sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and programs of study, accelerated degree completion options for working adults, various aviation programs and 22 graduate programs in nine fields. The ninth largest private, not-for-profit university in Illinois is being honored for the sixth consecutive year by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.
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