“Reading the UT Tower shootings as a case study in the connections among individual, cultural, institutional, and public memory suggests that rhetoric’s productive and practical as well as its analytical powers are central to memory work” (81). In Rose A. Eberly’s article, “Everywhere You Go, It’s There” Forgetting and Remembering the University of Texas Tower Shootings, Eberly explains how rhetoric shapes memory discourse, and to justify this theory, she uses her class she created and the different media techniques Austin’s community used to recall the repressed or forgotten memories of the UT Tower Shooting. After the UT Tower shooting, the campus shunned talk about the tragedy to help the community forget what had occurred. On the UT campus, Rose A. Eberly created a rhetoric class, “where students at the university would speak and write in common about whether and how they thought the Tower shootings were and ought to be remembered”(71). This class created a “protopublic sphere”, a place for discussion of memories. In 1966, after the shooting there was a repressive element in Austin. There was not a public space for people to share the memories, so people were creating different ways to memorialize the shooting. In the article, Eberly explains the community’s different methods of memorialization; they utilize various media to share memories. Eberly investigates the forgotten or ignored memories cemented publicly and individually. She explains how memories are stories of persuasion, and the persuasion behind the memory helps us remember events. In this composition, I will analyze how the Paul Pryor show of 1995, a radio show that helped the protopublic sphere of Austin in comparison to how the film Parkland helps the protopublic sphere for today’s society in remembrance of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
In the article, Eberly analyzes the 1995 Paul Pryor Show to explain how the public recalls repressed memories about the shooting on the UT Austin campus in 1966. The radio show provides a public space for people to access and share memories. The article opens with a discussion about the tower’s symbolism and then continues to explain how the tower itself serves as a memento of the tragic event. Eberly offers records from the Paul Pryor show to further explain the rhetoric concerning the shooting. These records demonstrate how individuals from the period of the UT Austin Tower Shooting had different perspectives. During the radio show, there is a theme of memory recognition within these interviews because Pryor questions his interviewees “Does that still affect you today?” to observe how they will react (67). This question triggers the interviewee to recall the events of the shooting, regardless of whether it was something forgotten or repressed. In the article Eberly questions whether it is a destructive or positive form of memorializing a tragedy.
29 years after the UT Tower Shooting, the Paul Pryor Show aired to help people recall repressed or forgotten memories. Fifty years later, the media help the public recall memories about the death of President John F. Kennedy. Specifically, film adaptations of events are ways people can memorialize events in time. Film adaptations add to the public sphere of memorializing an event. Film directors and writers, like Peter Landsman continue to help the public remember the assassination and aftermath of President John F. Kennedy. In 2013, Landsman directed the film, Parkland. The film explains the different occurrences that took place in 1963 before and after JFK’s death, and at the Parkland Memorial Hospital. Parkland portrays different perspectives from individuals placed into extraordinary circumstances during the historical event. Many important individuals feature in the film, and each person uniquely explain a different perspective from experiencing JFK’s assassination. For example, the cameraman, Abraham Zapruder captured the assassination on his home video camera. The film displays how the public and the government hassled him for the film, and how his life changed by filming 26 seconds of the presidential motorcade. In the movie, Zapruder has an emotional breakdown after the shooting and conversing with the government about developing the video. The film practices rhetoric because it shows how the public suppresses horrifying details of events after they occur, but fifty years later the public uses media to share the experiences. The film adds to the public sphere of the JFK shooting because it provides detailed answers about how the president’s death affected so many people. Reliving memories through film helps those deeply affected reflect on the memories of November 22, 1963.
Eberly believes that rhetorical evidence influences discussion, and affects how we interpret and memorialize the memories of important events, like the UT Austin Tower Shooting. Different forms of media provide rhetorical evidence that instigates the manner in which society in the 21st Century remember the death of President John F. Kennedy.