Added: August 15, 2009 – Last updated: April 25, 2015


Author: Dora Apel

Title: Imagery of Lynching

Subtitle: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob

Place: New Brunswick

Publisher: Rutgers University Press

Year: 2004

Pages: xii + 259pp.

ISBN-10: 0813534585 (hardcover) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat | ISBN-10: 0813534593 (pbk.) – Find a Library: Wikipedia, WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: 20th Century | U.S. History | Offenders: Punishments / Lynching; Types: Interracial Rape


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Author: Dora Apel, Department of Art and Art History, Wayne State


  Preface and Acknowledgments (p. ix)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter One. On Looking (p. 7)
  Chapter Two. Scottsboro, the Communist Party, and the NAACP: Conflicts and Desires (p. 47)
  Chapter Three. The Antilynching Exhibitions of 1935: Strategies and Constraints (p. 83)
  Chapter Four. Race, Sex, and Politics in Prewar America: Picturing Black Oppression (p. 133)
  Chapter Five. Mass Media, World War II, and the Cold War: The Lynching of George Dorsey and Emmett Till (p. 165)
  Chapter Six. The Evolution of Lynching Narratives in Contemporary Art (p. 189)
  Notes (p. 223)
  Bibliography (p. 243)
  Index (p. 251)


»Outside of the classroom and scholarly publications, lynching has long been a taboo subject. Nice people, it is felt, do not talk about it, and they certainly do not look at images representing the atrocity.
In Imagery of Lynching, Dora Apel contests this adopted stance of ignorance. Through a careful and compelling analysis of over one hundred representations of lynching, she shows how the visual documentation of such crimes can be a central vehicle for both constructing and challenging racial hierarchies. She examines how lynching was often orchestrated explicitly for the camera and how these images circulated on postcards, but also how they eventually were appropriated by antilynching forces and artists from the 1930s to the present. She further investigates how photographs were used to construct ideologies of "whiteness" and "blackness," the role that gender played in these visual representations, and how interracial desire became part of the imagery.
Offering the fullest and most systematic discussion of the depiction of lynching in diverse visual forms, this book addresses questions about race, class, gender, and dissent in the shaping of American society. Although we may want to avert our gaze, Apel holds it with her sophisticated interpretations of traumatic images and the uses to which they have been put.« (Source: Rutgers Uniersity Press)


Capeci, Dominic J., Jr. The Journal of American History 92(3) (December 2005): 1021. – Full Text: Oxford Journals (Restricted Access)

Mikkelsen, Vincent. The Historian: A Journal of History 68(4) (Winter 2006): 825-826. – Full Text: Wiley Online Library (Restricted Access)

Norman, Brian. Modern Language Studies 37(1) (Summer 2007): 88-92. – Full Text: JSTOR (Restricted Access)

Parr, Leslie. The Journal of Southern History 72(1) (February 2006): 214-215.

Wikipedia: Lynching: Lynching in the United States