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Reader Series: Zora Neale Hurston - Their Eyes Were Watching God

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston has generally been discussed/analyzed as a love story; but on a deeper more important level, its theme is the protagonist's search for identity. TEWWG is transitional in that it is the first novel that starts to pull away from the archetype of the 'tragic mulatta' and to present and explore a more complex vision of the Black woman in American literature. In this class we will study the novel in the context of several different American literary traditions: 1.) literature of the Harlem Renaissance; 2.) American Southern Literature; and 3.) American Feminist Literature.


Instructor: Dr. Brenda R. Smith retired from her position as Associate Professor, English, at Kent State University, Stark County Campus, in 2019. During her tenure at Kent State Stark, she taught American, African American, and modernist literatures, women’s literature, and freshman composition. Dr. Smith earned both her B.A. in English and her Ph.D. in American and African American literatures from Case Western Reserve University. She earned her M.A. in American literature from Cleveland State University. Her doctoral dissertation, The Construction of BiCultural Subjectivity in African American Migrant Autobiography, which earned her Case Western Reserve University’s distinguished Neil McIntyre Memorial Essay Award and Kent State University’s Regional Campus Professional Development Award, explored the relationship between African Americans’ involuntary immigration to and voluntary migration within the United States and their formation of American subjectivity. Her current research interests include the study of immigrant/migrant autobiography and the construction of American subjectivity, and the evolution of the Bildungsroman (coming-of-age) literary form in African American women’s writing.

Details: Reader Series: Their Eyes Were Watching God with Dr. Brenda R. Smith is a three-session class which takes place Saturdays, Nov 7, 14, & 21 from 1-3pm remotely through Zoom. Register and we will send along information about how to connect via Zoom.

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