Putting the Mounds in Perspective with Michael Gaudio

May 7, 2024, 5:30–7:00 PM

In this Research and Academic Program lecture, Michael Gaudio (University of Minnesota / Clark Professor 2023–2024) will explore a much-discussed feature of the nineteenth-century North-American landscape: Native American burial mounds. In 1899, the art historian Alois Riegl declared that the content of modern art, and of landscape painting in particular, was a scientific “mood” in which the chaotic world, seen from a distance, resolves into a sense of perspectival harmony. As elevated points in the landscape, burial mounds were frequently treated as ideal viewing platforms, sites from which to survey and understand the surrounding country, but as objects of a nascent archaeological discipline that placed the Indigenous inhabitants of North America into historical perspective, the mounds proved elusive. Belonging to none of the established categories for historical evaluation, the mounds disrupt the contemplative mood of both landscape art and nineteenth-century academic science.

Presented in person in the Clark auditorium.

Image: Edwin Whitefield, detail of Burial Mound in Minnesota, c. 1857. Gale Family Library, Minnesota History Center.