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Grave Negotiations: The Rhetorical Foundations of American World War I Cemeteries in Europe

Seitz, David William (2011) Grave Negotiations: The Rhetorical Foundations of American World War I Cemeteries in Europe. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    This dissertation uncovers the processes of negotiation between private citizens, President Woodrow Wilson's administration, the War Department, and the Commission of Fine Arts that led to the establishment and final visual presentation of the United States permanent World War I cemeteries in Europe (sites that are still frequented by tens of thousands of international visitors each year). It employs archival research and the analysis of newspapers and photographs to recover the voices of the many stakeholders involved in the cemeteries' foundation. Whereas previous studies have attempted to understand American World War I commemoration practices by focusing on postwar rituals of remembrance alone, my study contextualizes and explains postwar commemoration by analyzing the political ideologies, public rhetoric, and material realities of the war years (1914-1918)—ideologies, rhetoric, and material realities that shaped official and vernacular projects of memory after the Armistice. Providing what I believe is the first complete history of American World War I cemeteries in Europe, my dissertation situates these rhetorically charged sites within contemporary political debates about what it meant for U.S. soldiers to die on foreign soil; what would constitute the "proper" treatment and commemoration of the nation's war dead; how much control the U.S. government should have over the lives and bodies of American citizens; and, how best to communicate the nation's image to international populations.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee ChairZboray, Ronald J.zboray@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberMalin, Brentonbmalin@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberMitchell, Gordongordonm@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberSavage, Kirkksa@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberMajumdar, Neepaneepamajumdar@gmail.com
    Title: Grave Negotiations: The Rhetorical Foundations of American World War I Cemeteries in Europe
    Status: Unpublished
    Abstract: This dissertation uncovers the processes of negotiation between private citizens, President Woodrow Wilson's administration, the War Department, and the Commission of Fine Arts that led to the establishment and final visual presentation of the United States permanent World War I cemeteries in Europe (sites that are still frequented by tens of thousands of international visitors each year). It employs archival research and the analysis of newspapers and photographs to recover the voices of the many stakeholders involved in the cemeteries' foundation. Whereas previous studies have attempted to understand American World War I commemoration practices by focusing on postwar rituals of remembrance alone, my study contextualizes and explains postwar commemoration by analyzing the political ideologies, public rhetoric, and material realities of the war years (1914-1918)—ideologies, rhetoric, and material realities that shaped official and vernacular projects of memory after the Armistice. Providing what I believe is the first complete history of American World War I cemeteries in Europe, my dissertation situates these rhetorically charged sites within contemporary political debates about what it meant for U.S. soldiers to die on foreign soil; what would constitute the "proper" treatment and commemoration of the nation's war dead; how much control the U.S. government should have over the lives and bodies of American citizens; and, how best to communicate the nation's image to international populations.
    Date: 30 September 2011
    Date Type: Completion
    Defense Date: 17 May 2011
    Approval Date: 30 September 2011
    Submission Date: 10 August 2011
    Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
    Patent pending: No
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
    URN: etd-08102011-124852
    Uncontrolled Keywords: American Battle Monuments Commission; Cemetery; Commemoration; Commission of Fine Arts; Culture; Death; Europe; First World War; Gold Star Mothers; Great War; Material Culture; Memorials; Memory; Public Memory; Rhetoric; Trauma; Visual Rhetoric; War; World War
    Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication: Rhetoric and Communication
    Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 14:58
    Last Modified: 10 Jan 2012 17:03
    Other ID: http://etd.library.pitt.edu/ETD/available/etd-08102011-124852/, etd-08102011-124852

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