Jeffrey Schnapp began his lecture with the question “what happens when a monument outruns its historical meaning?” Personally, I do not think a monument can completely lose its historical meaning, but its historical reference can become second thought. For all monuments, there is an underlying recognition that it was built to represent an event or a person/people, but the importance of monuments nowadays is to symbolize a place. I think it is safe to say that when someone see the L’arc de Triomphe they think of Paris first, not of the French soldiers who fought in the revolution, or when someone sees images of the towering Christ the Redeemer, they think of Rio de Janeiro before they recount scriptures. It is an unfortunate truth. So, how can we bring the historical meaning back to the forefront? Professor Schnapp presented one way, which was renovating a monument in ways that make history relevant again. While this is an effective strategy, it can only do so much. It is just time before the importance of the historical memories are once again replaced with the structure of the monument and the place in which it stands. Those famous monuments that were built to preserve and honor the memories of historical moments but are now known for more superficial ideas may be a lost cause, but perhaps this generation could learn something from that.
Professor Schnapp mentioned arguments against modern monuments, such as, how monuments are irrelevant to living humans and has no use for societies in modern civilizations. While I agree to some extent that it is worth asking if a monument in which living humans cannot occupy or use in any form of production should take up a city’s limited available land over a skyscraper, for example, I do not think we should, or could, eliminate monuments altogether. As societies, I think we want to commemorate significant moments in history that we do not think we could simply write them down in history books and leave it at that. And what grander gesture is there than to build something that could last centuries? I also would not say monuments are completely irrelevant to living humans. First, they bring in tourism. Second, that is almost like saying history is irrelevant to humans. Even though many people think of a monument’s historical meaning second to its structure or location, the historical meaning will always be connected to it. Whether it be through engraved names and dates or through the image it replicates. Monuments are reminders of historical moments that many of us otherwise would not think about. However, seeing both sides of the argument, I propose that we could incorporate modern use into monuments. For example, a monument honoring those who fought for our country could also be the headquarters for veteran support. That could be an example of a modern monument.