Cultural Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Understanding the Urban Landscape: Civic, Commemorative, and Sacred Space in Arlington, Virginia

Jennifer Headley

Major Professor: David Kaufmann

Committee Members: Ellen Todd, Dina Copelman

Research Hall, 162
April 06, 2011, 07:00 AM to 08:00 AM

Abstract:

This dissertation describes the creation of three locations in Arlington County, Virginia as notable places in the urban landscape: Dark Star Park, the United States Air Force Memorial, and the Pentagon Memorial.  All three cultural objects were created through government programs and are public sites for civic, commemorative, and sacred activities.  For each location, I outline the planning steps for the concept, design, and construction of the space. Dark Star Park, the first work of the Arlington County Public Art Program, is an important civic space but nothing more.  The Pentagon Memorial successfully transforms the site of recent tragedy into a sacred space for reflection.  The Air Force Memorial is both a sacred and commemorative site, with a troubled history that adds to the story of the memorial's creation.  By placing these three cultural spaces in context, I create a narrative of Arlington County's urban sites and outline their success and failures as consecrated spaces framed by memory and cultural studies.

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