Darby English: Emmett Till in the Present Tense

On November 3rd in Los Angeles, a lecture by Darby English: “Emmett Till in the Present Tense.” 


In 1955, when 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi following an exchange with Carolyn Bryant, a white general-store clerk, photographs of his lynched and bloated corpse were beamed all over the world. These pictures catalyzed the modern Civil Rights Movement, and have since occupied a near-sacred position in accounts of race and racial formations in the United States. In this talk, University of Chicago art historian Darby English considers a number of contemporaneous photographs that indirectly pose heretofore unasked questions about Till’s historical subjectivity, the event of social transgression, and art’s ability not merely to reflect, but to intervene substantively in debates about how we remember Till.