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Approaches to Teaching Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and Other Works

by John Lowe

Approaches to Teaching Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and Other Works Synopsis

Zora Neale Hurston emerged as a celebrated writer of the Harlem Renaissance, fell into obscurity toward the end of her life, yet is now recognized as a great American author. Her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is popular among general readers and is widely taught in universities, colleges, and secondary schools. A key text of African American and women's literature, it has also been studied by scholars interested in the 1930s, small-town life, modernism, folklore, and regionalism, and it has been viewed through the lenses of dialect theory, critical race theory, and transnational and diasporan studies. Considering the ubiquity of Hurston's work in the nation's classrooms, there have been surprisingly few book-length studies of it. This volume helps instructors situate Hurston's work against the various cultures that engendered it and understand her success as short story writer, playwright, novelist, autobiographer, folklorist, and anthropologist. Part 1 outlines Hurston's publication history and the reemergence of the author on the literary scene and into public consciousness. Part 2 first concentrates on various approaches to teaching Their Eyes, looking at Hurston's radical politics and use of folk culture and dialect; contemporary reviews of the novel, including contrary remarks by Richard Wright; Janie's search for identity in Hurston's all-black hometown, Eatonville; and the central role of humor in the novel. The essays in part 2 then take up Hurston's other, rarely taught novels, Jonah's Gourd Vine, Moses, Man of the Mountain, and Seraph on the Suwanee. Also examined here are Hurston's anthropological works, chief among them Mules and Men, a staple for many years on American folklore syllabi, and Tell My Horse, newly reconsidered in Caribbean and postcolonial studies.

Approaches to Teaching Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and Other Works Press Reviews

A worthwhile pick for literary collections. --Midwest Book Review The strength of this volume is that it presents Hurston's work from a variety of perspectives and thus conveys to teachers the richness and complexity of her work--and the critical controversies surrounding it. --Susan Meisenhelder, California State University, San Bernardino

Book Information

ISBN: 9781603290432
Publication date: 15th January 2009
Author: John Lowe
Publisher: Modern Language Association of America
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 207 pages
Categories: Literary studies: general,

About John Lowe

John Lowe is professor of English and comparative literature at Louisiana State University, where he directs the Program in Louisiana and Caribbean Studies and teaches courses on African American, southern, and ethnic literature and theory. He has published Jump at the Sun: Zora Neale Hurston's Cosmic Comedy and edited Bridging Southern Cultures: An Interdisciplinary Approach; The Future of Southern Letters; Conversations with Ernest Gaines; and Louisiana Culture from the Colonial Era to Katrina. He is writing Calypso Magnolia: The Caribbean Side of the South.

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