Dr. Dave Tell focuses his research on issues of race, memory, and place. Since 2014, he has focused on the legacy of the murder of Emmett Till in the Mississippi Delta and has been the lead investigator on the Emmett Till Memory Project, a collaborative, public, and digital humanities project. Using a GPS-enabled smartphone app, the ETMP will take visitors to ten sites related to Till's murder in the Mississippi Delta. At each site, the ETMP will provide historical and contemporary photographs; narrative explanations; digital access to archival documents; social-media check-ins; and GPS directions to the next site. This project is still in development.
In 2019 Dr. Tell published a book, Remembering Emmett Till where he tells the complete story of Emmett Till’s commemoration in the Mississippi Delta. Written with the resources of a 2016 NEH Fellowship, the book accounts for long silences and brief, passionate outbursts of memorial investment. It tells the backstories of the signs and museums that now punctuate the land where Till was killed. It reveals a world of controversy, patronage, nepotism, and racism lurking just behind the placid surface of polished historical markers.
Dr. Tell is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2017 Chancellor’s University Scholarly Achievement Award, the 2012 Ned N. Fleming Distinguished Teaching Award, and several awards for engaged scholarship.
In addition, Dr. Tell has been very involved with the University Scholars program. He is currently teaching: “The Past is Never Dead: Commemoration, Power, and American Cultural Politics” for the program. Dr. Tell joined the Honors team as a faculty fellow in the spring semester of 2020.