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125 Years of Zora Neale Hurston

November 18-19, 2016 - This workshop explored the life and legacy of Zora Neale Hurston, as a folklorist, a novelist, and an anthropologist in the U.S. South and Global South with Dr. Rhonda Collier and Dr. Tiffany Ruby Patterson. Dr. Patterson, professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University, explored the connections between Zora Neale Hurston in the US south and drew connections to the Global South in a talk entitled, “Zora Neale Hurston: Historian of the Global South.” Dr. Collier, professor of English at Tuskegee University explored Zora Neale Hurston’s birth in Notasulga, Alabama and related it to African religions.


Oral Histories & Zora Neale Hurston

Grade Levels: 6-12

Subject Areas:  Language Arts, Social Studies, Technology

This lesson could be used as an extension plan on a unit on Their Eyes Were Watching God, or on rhetoric, vernacular, folklore, and/or social studies methods in a Human Geography, US History, Sociology, or Geography course. Oral histories as a focus could be adapted to many questions across the social sciences/language arts and literature classroom.

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Students Researching through Fieldwork and Fiction

Grade Level(s): 10-12

Subject Area(s): Language Arts, English

In this lesson, students will briefly learn about Zora Neale Hurston’s work as a social scientist who studied folklore and culture in the black diaspora across the U.S. and Latin America. Students will discuss the major questions Hurston addressed in her research on the African Diaspora, and how they might have impacted her while writing Their Eyes Were Watching God during a research trip in Haiti. They will then use this framework to develop a research question about folklore, experience, and culture that they will trace through the novel. A special focus on gender, race, and spirituality is a suggestion, but teachers can amend this to whichever themes in the text they’d like to highlight, making it easy applicable to multiple approaches to the text.