Sculpture Journal

The poetics of permanence? Inscriptions, memory and memorials of the First World War in Britain

Sculpture Journal (2015), 24, (1), 73–96.

Abstract

Much of the literature on First World War memorials has focused on the sculptural representation of soldiers and other human figures; in other words, the physical subjects that these monuments were designed to commemorate. This scholarship has revealed much about the material languages of mourning, memory and memorialization. If there has been growing debate concerning the relationships between monuments and memory, the inscriptions which are almost always included as part of war memorials have, conversely, received nowhere near this level of attention and theorization as three-dimensional war memorial sculpture. This article addresses this gap in the research on war memorials and the cultures of memorialization in Britain. It argues that the issue of memorial inscriptions was productive not only of a lively public debate about the purpose, style and mode of commemorative texts on memorials and monuments, but also of new material and cultural relationships between the written word and sculpture, as well as between writers, artists and public officials.

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Author details

Turner, Sarah Victoria