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Zora Neale Hurston 18911960


'The race question' cost her career after gaining fame and recognition as one of ... same time their complicated world view, usually inaccessible for the outsiders ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Zora Neale Hurston 18911960

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Life and Work
  • The race question" cost her career after gaining
    fame and recognition as one of the most vivid
    figures of the movement
  • Died in poverty, leaving an unmarked grave in
    Florida to be rediscovered by Alice Walker in the
    late 1970s
  • Fascinated by the richness of African American
    folklore and devoted many years to the collection
    and popularization of it

Life and Work
  • Born in the all-black Eatonville, Florida
  • The death of her mother
  • Graduated from high school
  • Held various scholarships and grants, which she
    used to study at Howard, where Alain Locke taught
    for many years
  • Specialized in folklore studies with the
    anthropologist Franz Boas

Hurstons Writings
  • Started writing short stories
  • Invited to come to New York to write for the
    Opportunity magazine
  • Contributed to the New Negro Anthology

Hurstons Works
  • In the 1930s started publishing the material
    gathered in folklore collections and travel
  • Contributed to Nancy Cunards Negro An
    Anthology (1934)

Hurstons Works
  • Folklore collections Mules and Man(1935), Tell
    my Horse(1938)
  • Novels
  • Jonah's Gourd (1934)
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
  • Moses Man of the Mountain (1939)
  • AutobiographyDust Tracks on a Road (1942)

Hurstons Achievements
  • The best black woman writer in America
  • All her works express the communal culture of
    black southerners revealing at the same time
    their complicated world view, usually
    inaccessible for the outsiders
  • Much in the vein of Alain Lockes ideas, Hurston
    believed that black culture is not what an
    outsider perceives

Hurstons Achievements
  • Ambivalence expressed in the paradoxical
    identification with her home South
  • Makes herself at home in a segregated South by
    employing strategies of self-representation very
    close to our postmodern understanding of the
    fluid, heterogeneous, subaltern, unstable
    identities of today

Hurstons Achievements
  • Reminds us also that the self is linked to
    history and community
  • And though the home can be an unstable community
    of others, its rich culture is the only means for
    the individuals to sustain their identities

Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • The story of Janie Crawford
  • Shows that the strength of an individual lies in
    the recognition of power in language
  • The ability to speak for oneself

Untitled (Harvest) by Jules André Smith
Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • Claims that oppression functions not only along
    the race lines, but along the gender line as well
  • The colored woman is the mule of the world
  • Janie as Zora herself, managed to affirm her own
    identity because she had the courage to speak for

Critical Discussions of the Novel
  • No unanimous agreement about the way female and
    male voices function in the book
  • Barbara Johnson in Metaphor, Metonymy and Voice
    in Their Eyes Were Watching God the emergence
    of the protagonists voice is possible only when
    she recognizes the others word in it, her own
    self-difference and double-voicedness.

Critical Discussions of the Novel
  • Mary Helen Washington I Love the Way Janie
    Crawford Left Her Husbands Emergent Female
    Hero the text reveals an actual silencing of
    Janie while privileging the male voices.

Hurstons Contribution
  • Together with Jean Toomer established a new
    narrative tradition
  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr calls it a speakerly
  • Speakerly texts privilege the representation of
    the speaking black voice, of what the Russian
    Formalists called skaz and which Hurston called
    an oral book, a talking book

Hurstons Contributions
  • Refused to follow recipes for the represent-ation
    of black life
  • Very skeptical towards the calls for racial
    solidarity of protest fiction, her credo was of
    writing a novel and not a treatise on sociology
    (in Hemenway 42)
  • Attacked by her male contemporaries, most notably
    Richard Wright

Hurstons Views on Art
  • To oppose ideas of art as propaganda and art for
    arts sake is to ignore the political
    implications of any act of writing, especially
    one that insists on the sovereignty of the black
  • For all sorts of complex historical reasons, the
    very act of writing has been a political act for
    the Black author.(Gates 19905)
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