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Literature Review On Zora Neale Hurston

1551 words - 7 pages

The following articles pertaining to the life of Zora Neale Hurston and her accomplished works illustrates as well as analyze her position as an African American female artist and anthropologist. Articles include: Zora Neale Hurston's Construction of Authenticity through Ethnographic Innovation by Jennifer Staple; Creating Ethnography: Zora Neale Hurston and Lydia Cabrera by Lynda Hoffman-Jeep; and Ethnics and Ethnographers: Zora Neale Hurston and Anzia Yezierska1 by Lori Jirousek. These articles demonstrate Hurston’s unique position of an artist as well as an anthropologist that captures the lives of African American culture through folktale, literature, and theatre. Two of these articles are in fact comparisons of her and other female ethnic anthropologists of the same time period; one being Afro-Cuban and the other a Polish Jew.
The questions that these following authors have asked about Zora Neale Hurston is (1) “What drove [Hurston] to travel both physically and intellectually in search for authentic experience and knowledge?” (Staples 2006); (2) “How did Hurston eradicate the previous pervasive stereotypical image of African Americans?” (Hoffman-Jeep 2005); and (3) “Had Hurston somehow betrayed her ethnic community to work as an ethnographer?”, “In what ways did Hurston bring insight of how ethnography can serve in an ethnic community?” (Jirousek 2006).
In Zora Neale Hurston's Construction of Authenticity through Ethnographic Innovation by Jennifer Staple, Staple explores how Hurston constructs ethnographic authenticity of African American culture through her work entitled, Mule Bone in 1930 with her colleague and rival; renowned writer and poet Langston Hughes. The authenticity that Staples explores, is her use of a revolutionary modern and liberalist practice of ethnography that is primarily embedded through her use of language in Hurston’s theatrical and literary works. The main point of Staples’ article is, Hurston’s main goal is to change the stereotypical perceptions of the white propaganda about black Americans as Henry Louis Gates Jr. says, “She "portrays what black people say and think and feel-when no white people are around-in a highly metaphorical and densely lyrical language that is... far removed from minstrelsy..." (Staples 2006). It is also noted that Hurston used the theatre as anthropological research as her theatrical works observes the “Characteristics of Negro Expression” (Staples 2006).
In the comparison articles, one entitled Creating Ethnography: Zora Neale Hurston and Lydia Cabrera, Lynda Hoffman-Jeep poses these female ethnographers (Zora Neale Hurston & Lydia Cabrera) as “native” scholarly ethnographers and in Zora’s case, unfortunately sidelined (Hoffman-Jeep 2005). Hoffman-Jeep compares these ethnic diverse women as she draws some similar traits among these women. Both Zora Neale Hurston and Lydia Cabrera had to distance themselves physically and geographically from their...

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