OHA Annual Meeting: Spotlight on Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

OK Memorial Museum

Friday Night: Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum

Ed Linenthal, one of the leading historians of American historical memory and memorialization, is the featured speaker at our Friday evening special event. The museum and memorial site will remain open after hours so that OHA attendees may tour the site before and after Linenthal’s presentation.


‘The Predicament of Aftermath’: Oklahoma City and 9/11

Linenthal Edward T. Linenthal is Professor of History, Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies, and Editor of the Journal of American History at Indiana University, Bloomington. Previously, he was the Edward M. Penson Professor of Religion and American Culture and Chancellor’s Public Scholar at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, and a long-time consultant for the National Park Service.

Linenthal has been a Sloan Research Fellow in the Arms Control and Defense Policy Program at MIT, where he did the research for his first book, Symbolic Defense:  The Cultural Significance of the Strategic Defense Initiative. He is also the author of Sacred Ground: Americans and Their Battlefields and Preserving Memory: The Struggle to Create America’s Holocaust Museum. He has co-edited A Shuddering Dawn: Religious Studies in the Nuclear Age, with Ira Chernus; American Sacred Space, with David Chidester; and History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past, with Tom Engelhardt. Linenthal worked for the National Park Service during the 50th anniversary ceremonies at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor, and delivered the commemorative address at the memorial in 1994. He has appeared on ABC’s “Nightline,” PBS’s “Newshour with Jim Lehrer”, and on CBS and NBC evening news. He served for many years on the Federal Advisory Commission for the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Academic Advisory Committee for the new permanent exhibition at the FDR Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York. He is most recently co-editor of The Landscapes of 9/11: A Photographer’s Journey.

In his presentation at the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum, Linenthal will draw upon his experience in writing The Unfinished Bombing: Oklahoma City in American Memory, and his experience as a member of the Flight 93 Memorial Commission to reflect on the parallels and differences between these events. His talk will focus on: various narratives which framed these events in very different ways; the significance of memorial hierarchies; the power of material items often transformed into both sacred relics and commercial commodities; and the processes of formal memorialization.


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