What Can and Can't Be Said

Race, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South

Dell Upton

View Inside Price: $35.00

November 24, 2015
280 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
59 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300211757

An original study of monuments to the civil rights movement and African American history that have been erected in the U.S. South over the past three decades, this powerful work explores how commemorative structures have been used to assert the presence of black Americans in contemporary Southern society. The author cogently argues that these public memorials, ranging from the famous to the obscure, have emerged from, and speak directly to, the region’s complex racial politics since monument builders have had to contend with widely varied interpretations of the African American past as well as a continuing presence of white supremacist attitudes and monuments.

Dell Upton is professor of architectural history at the University of California, Los Angeles, and has studied the Southern landscape for four decades. His books include Another City: Urban Life and Urban Spaces in the New American Republic and Holy Things and Profane: Anglican Parish Churches in Colonial Virginia. He lives in Culver City, CA.

“A profoundly original book based on very deep scholarship. It advances a strong argument that is likely to generate serious debate.”—Kirk Savage, author of Monument Wars: Washington, D.C., the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape

“Engrossing, trenchant, and broad-minded, Dell Upton’s lucid analysis of both notorious and unfamiliar African-American history monuments underscores their centrality to the national conversation about race relations. Scholars, public officials, and general readers all have much to learn from it.”—Michele H. Bogart, author of The Politics of Urban Beauty: New York and Its Art Commission

“At a time when public display of the Confederate flag has generated a lively debate over race relations, Dell Upton offers fresh insights into the motives behind the construction of Civil War and Civil Rights Era monuments in the South.”—Steven F. Lawson, author of Running for Freedom

“Thoroughly researched, well illustrated, brilliantly analyzed . . . Researchers and students, as well as political observers, will find this study thorough, insightful, and of great use in comprehending the vital role that monumental art can and does play in American culture.”—Choice

“Institutions and communities across the country are being forced to rapidly reconsider the racial inequalities embedded in their commemorative landscapes. What Can and Can’t Be Said should be required reading by all involved—presidents, scholars, artists, public officials, activists, and tourists.”—Karen Hudson, Journal of Appalachian Studies

“A noted authority on architectural history and American cities, Upton has lots to say in [What Can and Can’t Be Said] as this timely work engages with the ongoing debate over interpretations of race in public art.”—Glenn T. Eskew, American Historical Review

Finalist for the 2016 Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change Book Award.
Holy Things and Profane

Anglican Parish Churches in Colonial Virginia

Dell Upton

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Another City

Urban Life and Urban Spaces in the New American Republic

Dell Upton

View details