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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Response to the Unthinkable: Grief, Memorialization, & Violence Prevention

Ashley Maynor, Assistant Professor & Digital Humanities LibrarianLibraries

From Columbine to Sandy Hook, individuals around the world have responded to violent mass shootings publicized in mainstream media by sending expressions of grief and sympathy—such as letters, flowers, and teddy bears—by the tens and even hundreds of thousands. Increasingly, there is an expectation that some, if not all, of the condolence items will be kept or saved. 

My research on this topic, which takes the form of traditional publications, a multimedia documentary, and a mobile-based web app, explores how this unusual and unexpected archival task often falls to libraries, what we can learn about our culture through what we choose to kept or discard following unthinkable tragedies, and how we can begin to prevent gun violence. 

Illustration of teddy bear poster
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