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David W. Tell
University of Kansas, Lawrence (Lawrence, KS 66045-7505)
Emmett Till, Geography, and the Rhetoric of Place

A book-length study on the rhetoric of, and geography surrounding, the murder, trial, and memory of Emmett Till.

In August 1955, fourteen-year-old Emmett Till was tortured and murdered for whistling at a white woman in the Mississippi Delta. The murder has been a staple of American public memory. In the sixty years since Till's murder, only eight years have passed without the case being covered by the New York Times. Scaling Emmett Till uses the constant commemorations of Emmett Till to explore the intersections among race, geography, and memory. It does so by foregrounding the geographic variables in Till’s murder. This book project focuses on the contested murder site, sixty years of inconsistent maps, and, above all, the various geographic regions through which Till’s murder has been given meaning: the state of Mississippi, the Mississippi Delta, and Tallahatchie County. It argues that as the scale of his murder has shifted from the state to the Delta to the county, the basic geographic facts of the case have been altered and the role of race has been called into question.

Project fields:
Composition and Rhetoric

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 6/30/2017