Twelve Aggie Angels: Content Analysis of the Spontaneous Shrines Following the 1999 Bonfire Collapse at Texas A&M University

  • Sylvia Grider


Spontaneous shrines are not generic; each shrine is unique because each disaster and the individuals who died in it are unique (Santino 1992; 2001). In addition to the ubiquitous flowers and candles, the artifacts of which each shrine is comprised are manifestations of this individuality. For example, the shrine at NASA headquarters following the explosion of the Columbia. space shuttle featured Israeli flags because one of the astronauts was the first Israeli in space. The preponderance of helium-filled balloons in the NASA shrine metaphorically represented flight, reaching toward the heavens. The shrines in London and elsewhere after the death of Princess Diana were filled with photographs of the princess and depictions of the Queen of Hearts playing card. In recognition of her work with the world’s children, the shrines for Diana also contained an extraordinary number of teddy bears and other plush children’s toys. Many of the shrines in New York City following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center contained photographs, models, and other artworks depicting the Twin Towers. A large percentage of the artifacts left at the distinctive campus shrines following the fatal collapse of the Texas A&M University spirit bonfire were clearly related to that institution specifically.


Oklahoma City Football Game Artifact Type Teddy Bear Artifact Assemblage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Jack Santino 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvia Grider

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