Understanding Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Synopsis

Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God highlights the vitality of African American culture. This casebook demonstrates how African Americans fashioned themselves individually and collectively to combat racism, classism, and sexism. With provocative documents that contextualize the complex issues of the novel, Lester provides an excellent resource for students and teachers first approaching the excitement and cultural flavor that define Hurston's novels.

Excerpt

Zora Neale Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) is now a standard text in American literature, African American literature, and women's studies courses from high school to graduate school. The popularity of Hurston's novel is largely due to the groundbreaking efforts of writer Alice Walker in the early 1970s to resurrect Hurston (1903-1960) and her work from literary and critical oblivion. To rediscover and to reintroduce Hurston was, according to Walker, to celebrate and legitimize the diversity and textured nuances of African American culture -- language, folklore, American political and social history, American race relations, feminism and womanism; in short, to provide readers today with an exploration into the complex life of a black woman artist whose prolific works and whose enigmatic life defy categorization within others' convenient boundaries. Many other writers of the Harlem Renaissance described the experiences of southern blacks who migrated north for safety from lynching and other violent acts and for more economic and educational opportunities. Countee Cullen writes of northern travel in Incident (1925); Jean Toomer writes of the exciting nightlife in Seventh Street (Cane 1923); Langston Hughes's character Jesse B. Semple shares his life through storytelling in a Harlem bar (The Best of Simple 1961); and Nella Larsen explores the entanglements of racial and sexual passing [feigning . . .

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