Abstracts

Below are abstracts from members of AGS-WI. If you would like to submit a sample of your work for inclusion, please e-mail ags.wisconsin@gmail.com


Haunting Memories: A Landscape Approach to Graveyards
Presented at the 2017 Association for Gravestone Studies Conference, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, June 24.
By Erin Hastings

Graveyards in Galway, Ireland were examined through a landscape approach to illustrate how places are deliberately cultivated to carry memory and place emotion. This presentation offers a theoretical discussion of landscape and emotion while also highlighting specific gravestones to demonstrate how form, orientation, placement, and inscription were deliberate acts with an awareness of the physical,
social, and mental landscape. A landscape approach to graveyard studies offers insight into the emotions of people in the past by acknowledging that emotions shape behavior, regardless of what those subjective emotions might be. Like the tangled strings of a complex marionette, landscape, perception, memory, desires, and emotion orchestrate human behavior. Landscapes may trigger memories with emotional repercussions, or emotion may cast itself over a perception of a landscape, or habitual behavior may become memory affixed to the landscape. The landscape can thus take on a haunted presence when memories associated with place involve the dead or terrible events. Even happy and quotidian memories take on a tone of sadness as they recede further and further into the irrevocable past. The encountered landscape becomes crowded with an excess of memories, emotions, and desires, while also denying any hope of return. The behavioral response to this is the construction of culturally validated places like graveyards. These places mask, downplay, confront, share, acknowledge, and express the finality of death using the same power of the landscape.


That Pleasant Country’s Earth: Cultural Lessons From German-American Churchyards of the Wisconsin Holyland
Presented at the 2017 Association for Gravestone Studies Conference, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, June 24.
Written by Dr. Norman Sullivan and Erin Hastings
Presented by Erin Hastings

The Wisconsin Holyland is an area of central Wisconsin which was settled during the nineteenth century by a migration of farming families from Rhenish Prussia. The Holyland is comprised of ten villages, each of which has a parish church and associated cemetery. The first immigrants were Catholic as are the contemporary residents of the area. The majority of people in the towns and villages surrounding the Holyland were from Ireland, Scandinavia and Protestant regions of Germany. The Holyland is remarkable for the high degree of residential continuity from its founding to the present, a high degree of endogamy based on ethnicity and faith and the retention of ancestral cultural attributes through multiple generations. This cultural continuity is documented with the compilation of data from cemetery memorials. These document the use of Old World names in favor of their New World forms, the retention of ancestral language and European designations of dates through the fourth generation of Holyland families. The data from the gravestones also document the retention of frequent use of Catholic symbols to the present day although this is accompanied by an increasing frequency of secular representation of the individual beginning in the 1950s.