April 24th 2013
Includes an afternoon walking tour of city's monuments
This day, "Stories Written in Marble" will open in the
morning at the Bethesda Writers Center with maps, photos, and a
sharing of memories, personal and cultural, of the major monuments
of Washington. We will get inside the mind of the designers,
L'Enfant and Washington and Jefferson as they transformed their
vision of a City worthy of a New Republic, into bricks and mortar.
We will start to dissect the whole narrative geography
that the city enshrines.
We will learn from the indigenous tribes like the
Australian aboriginals and their sense of a story as a map, (Chatwin)
and inform ourselves of a narrative mindset that we will test in the
afternoon when we go on excursion to Arlington and the Lincoln and
Vietnam memorials. These sites will be our case studies of how each
memorial is the site of the contest between memory and forgetting
and the site of contesting stories-the civil war as a war to free
the slaves or mend the Union, Vietnam as the unjust war and yet
fought by heroes? We will discuss these sites on location in the
afternoon and come back to a final discussion over wine and cheese
of what we have learned.
This is a workshop that can only be given in Washington, DC, the
capital of our nation and the place where our stories materialize
into action and monument.
Washington is a privileged place for stories because so much of
the nation's history happened here and because the nation's capital
is a monument to the memory of the presidents/government who founded
and re-founded this republic.
Living here, we tend to take all this for granted but perhaps we
need to attend to it more because each year, millions of our school
kids tour the monuments and learn the official stories (like we did)
of a Lincoln or a Kennedy or an FDR. They learn the myths of how
Washington came to build his Capital and his Capitol. Funny that
most of the good stories are about war and most of the stories are
about men and white men at that. Examples abound from Lincoln's
Second Inaugural, FDR's sentiments on war, and Jefferson's notion of
Isn't it time that we examined the role that Washington plays
in validating the official epic of the nation? Are we ready to
revisit each memorial and re-read each text to discover that they
have enough power to subvert our easy orthodoxies of what the core
stories of the nation are about?
Limited space so register early