Final Project: Rhetorical Choices Behind Judiciary Square

Judiciary Square has always been an enigma to me. From the first moment I visited this past fall, I could never fully grasp the purpose it served in Washington, D.C. As a student of the law, I was naturally drawn to the area. I am a white woman from an upper middle-class background with a particular interest for politics and history. My instinct in visiting Judiciary Square for the first time was that I would belong. Yet, the moment I stepped off the Metro platform, I felt inherently out of place. This seems to be the commonplace or topos of Judiciary Square: nothing truly belongs. This is a rather negative commonplace, and one that I think could be altered in future years. I utilized my research to break down the area and how the future could be shaped to have a more inclusive commonplace in Judiciary Square.

I broke my research down into a few different aspects. The first aspect I focused on was the statues of Judiciary Square. The first time I visited, I was taken aback by how inherently out of place each statue in the area feels. The statues are so different to begin with, and they don’t seem to follow any consistent theme. There’s the towering statue of Abraham Lincoln, the gilded Joseph Darlington memorial, the dominating Albert Pike statue and the reserved William Blackstone statue. Each statue contrasts the others greatly, but they each represent a part of D.C.’s history in many ways. After further research, I learned that each statue had a great history that tied them to Judiciary Square and Washington, D.C. as a city. This was why I chose my first mode, the StoryMap. This map illustrates the journey of a tourist visiting Judiciary Square for the first time. It stops at each statue and explains the significance of each piece. I also present the questions I had about the statues that I still haven’t answered. I hope to further a dialogue with these questions and those who view my project. For example, the Albert Pike statue seems like something that would’ve caused an uproar in D.C. by now, considering that Pike was a prominent KKK leader. Yet it still stands: why? I present questions like these in my StoryMap. The statues represent that commonplace of Judiciary Square: none of them really seem to fit or belong in the area.

The second aspect was an expansion of my StoryMap with a Prezi. I explored some brief history of the area. Given that context, I presented my audience with the current challenge of Judiciary Square: how do we make it less exclusionary and integrate more populations? Everywhere you go in Judiciary Square, you see men in suits and briefcases. There are few women and few people of color. There are also no children in sight, despite the fact that Judiciary Square has a huge park. When you do see any of the listed populations, they seem out of place, like they don’t belong. I utilized my Prezi as a groundwork tool to get individuals thinking about possible solutions. One of the few occasions that Judiciary Square has had large quantities of these smaller populations has been the protests of the past year. The Women’s March and the Standing Rock protests both visited Judiciary Square and brought hoards of people to the area that normally would not visit. Though these people fit the “out of place” topos, if they continued to visit and be active in the community, that commonplace could be dissolved.

In my Digital Archives and Annotated Bibliography, I have included information on the history of Judiciary Square. I also included several images of the surrounding area, the courthouses, and the statues themselves. I hope my research can serve as a jumping off point to changing the commonplace of Judiciary Square from exclusionary to inclusive in future years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *