Presenter Information

Emily Sharp, Emory UniversityFollow

Date

4-29-2020

Description

Roy Cohn was and remains a controversial figure known for his staunch anti-subversive practices during the Second Red Scare, his involvement with some of New York's shadiest characters in business and politics as their legal representation, and for his sexuality and death due to AIDS complications. These facets of Cohn's life have defined how he is remembered in the collective American memory, which in this context refers to how the nation at large has decided to process and recall our history. The objective of this project is to examine the histories of American conservatism and the gay rights movement and the ways in which they are converging under the Trump administration. Using Cohn as the focus, I want to link these two oppositional histories and anchor them in the current political moment in America. The way in which we remember Cohn is reflective of how we remember much of post-WWII history, so understanding his legacy is key to understanding where our country is today. Thus, this project intends to answer the question, what do Roy Cohn and the country's collective memory of him represent about the last 70 years of American history, and how can we use that to make sense of today?

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Apr 29th, 12:00 AM

Roy Cohn's America: Conservatism, Sexual Politics, and Memory in the 21st Century

Roy Cohn was and remains a controversial figure known for his staunch anti-subversive practices during the Second Red Scare, his involvement with some of New York's shadiest characters in business and politics as their legal representation, and for his sexuality and death due to AIDS complications. These facets of Cohn's life have defined how he is remembered in the collective American memory, which in this context refers to how the nation at large has decided to process and recall our history. The objective of this project is to examine the histories of American conservatism and the gay rights movement and the ways in which they are converging under the Trump administration. Using Cohn as the focus, I want to link these two oppositional histories and anchor them in the current political moment in America. The way in which we remember Cohn is reflective of how we remember much of post-WWII history, so understanding his legacy is key to understanding where our country is today. Thus, this project intends to answer the question, what do Roy Cohn and the country's collective memory of him represent about the last 70 years of American history, and how can we use that to make sense of today?