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BrainBox S3 Ep2

Monuments, Memorials, and Their Meanings


How do public monuments and memorials express the values and concerns of their cultures? What makes an effective monument, and how can its planning and development be an example of public discourse at work? Our guest, Dr. Nathan Shank of Oklahoma Christian University, has thought and studied extensively about monuments and memorials. In this episode we discuss their deeper meanings, the emotions they convey, and some of the controversies and new developments in monuments and memorials in Oklahoma and around the world. 

About our guest:

Dr. Shank

Dr. Nathan Shank is an Assistant Professor at Oklahoma Christian University, where he teaches composition and directs the writing center. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Kentucky in 2015 and his Master’s in English from the University of Oklahoma in 2011. He has recently published in the field of technical writing and is working on a research project on monuments and memorials. Dr. Shank also gave a presentation at the 2019 Oklahoma Humanities Curiosity Fest on “Memorials As Sites of Trauma and Healing.” Nathan's wife Manda works as a Program Associate for the Kirkpatrick Foundation, and they have two children, Hannah, age 5, and Amos, age 2.

Find out more about Oklahoma Christian University’s History Speaks series of public lectures on civil rights:


Additional information about topics discussed in this episode:

KSU Memorial


Learn more about the memorial to the four Kent State University students killed by National Guard members during a 1970 anti-war demonstration. The memorial was refused by Kent State officials and is currently displayed at Princeton University. Learn More



The Guardian statue


Read about the monument The Guardian that stands atop the state capitol of Oklahoma and “exemplifies the valor of Oklahomans and their ability to overcome the most horrific catastrophes.” Learn More






Review some of the controversies surrounding the design of the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial in Washington, D.C. Learn More




Edmond USPSFind out more about the Edmond Post Office Memorial and other notable Oklahoma sites on, a site that features locations, images, and additional information about interesting memorials and monuments around the world. Learn More



Juan de OñateRead about the monument to Juan de Oñate in New Mexico, from which a foot was removed in a symbolic protest against honoring the conquistador.  In 1598 Oñate sentenced hundreds of men from  Acoma Pueblo to have one foot severed following a battle with Spanish troops. Learn More


Sites of memory, Sites of Mourning

Read “Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning,” by Jay Winter, from the World War I issue of Oklahoma Humanities magazine.  The article reflects on memorials that shaped memory, commemoration, and European identity following the First World War. Learn More


Suggestions for further reading:

Memorial Mania

Memorial Mania: Public Feeling in America, by Erika Doss


Dark Tourism

Dark Tourism, by J. John Lennon and Malcolm Foley 

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