The AES Corporation Lecture
Sixty-six years after his lynching, the story of Emmett Till is more prominent than ever. Beginning with the murder in 1955, Dave Tell will chart the long after-life of Emmett Till. Tell will explain how and why Till’s story was buried for 49 years before roaring back to life in the twenty-first century. Tell will account for long silences as well as brief, passionate outbursts of memorial investment. He will tell the backstories of the signs and museums that now punctuate the land where Till was killed. These stories reveal a world of controversy, patronage, nepotism and enduring racism lurking just behind the placid surface of polished historical markers. The commemoration of Emmett Till did not simply disseminate a settled story; it has transformed most of what we think we know about the night Till was killed.
Speaker: Dave Tell
Dave Tell is Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas. He is the author of Confessional Crises and Cultural Politics in Twentieth Century America (Penn State University Press, 2012) and Remembering Emmett Till (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Remembering Emmett Till was listed as a 2019 book of the year by the Economist and winner of the Mississippi Historical Society’s 2020 McLemore Prize.
Professor Tell is a former fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a codirector of the Emmett Till Memory Project. His writing on the Till murder has been published in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, LitHub, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and a wide range of academic journals. He is a past president of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric and the inaugural Public Humanities Officer for the Rhetoric Society of America.
Professor Tell is Co-Director of the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities and a Faculty Fellow in the University Honors Program. He holds courtesy appointments in American Studies and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.