Yuliya Komska: With Monuments, Does Language Matter? The Case of Germany

Yuliya Komska: With Monuments, Does Language Matter? The Case of Germany

What is at stake in conversations about monuments and monumentality? History and memory, space and place, inclusion and exclusion, destruction and recoding are among the usual suspects. Language, however, mostly goes unmentioned-- the inescapable medium of those conversations though it remains. Language matters, we hear time and again, but does it matter where commemoration and oblivion are concerned? How and why? And what can a more prominent presence of language as a viable category add to the debate on what is monumental today? The German case, remarkable not only for the multiple layers of difficult heritage and the protracted bouts of "monument mania" (Andreas Huyssen) but also for the intricate and oft-negotiated taxonomy of commemoration, can be instructive for America. Yuliya Komska is an assistant professor of German studies at Dartmouth College, a Cold War cultural historian, and a self-proclaimed “wannabe Austro-Hungarian.” A native of Ukraine, Komska recently published her first book, "The Icon Curtain: The Cold War's Quiet Border." She shares her views on belonging, her joy in teaching, and the difference between her and the futuristic mom in the 1960s cartoon show The Jetsons.