zora neal hurston

zora neal hurston

  • Submitted By: tedazia
  • Date Submitted: 03/12/2014 8:16 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 874
  • Page: 4

A witty, gifted storyteller, a pioneer of literary style, and a flamboyant personality, Zora Neale Hurston was raised in America's oldest incorporated, self-governing, all-black township, Eatonville, Florida. Hurston left home at the age of 14, supporting herself while she earned a high school degree and attending Howard College before she arrived in New York City in 1925. She quickly become a key figure among the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance. While many of her colleagues were urban and/or northern-born and influenced by European literary traditions, Hurston maintained a strong identification with rural southern folk culture. She was a figure of great controversy and died in poverty and obscurity, but she is embraced today as an important and revolutionary artist in a variety of fields. Known mostly for her novels, Hurston was also a filmmaker, folklorist, anthropologist, dramatist, theatrical producer, and travel writer.

Hurston trained with Franz Boas while attending Barnard College in the mid-1920s and became the first black female anthropologist. In the participant-observer style of modern anthropology, she studied and documented African-American oral and religious traditions in the South, collecting folklore, researching hoodoo religion and medicine, and becoming an apprentice to conjure doctors in the hoodoo religion. On film, audio tape, and in writing, she recorded folktales, verbal contests, and hoodoo practices, as well as music, dance, and song. Today, the Hurston collections at the Library of Congress are considered unique documents of traditions that have since vanished or been radically altered by the advent of technology.

In her writing and theater productions, Hurston strove to establish what she considered to be "pure Negro" forms of expression, maintaining fidelity to the black culture that existed to a great extent outside of white cultural influence. Her works -- including four novels, dozens of essays and short stories, two...

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