Looking for Zora Neale Hurston in the Archives

December 2, 2020

By Gabrielle Colangelo

This Sway by Curator Melissa Barton provides an introduction to Zora Neale Hurston in the archives. Barton begins, 

What can we know about a person from what they’ve left behind? Zora Neale Hurston lives large in the literary imagination in the twenty-first century, but she hasn’t always been a household name. Celebrated even in her own lifetime, Hurston died nearly forgotten. She left behind a partial and fragmentary archive, along with a reputation repeatedly framed and reframed by those who knew her–both personally, like Langston Hughes, and through her writings, like Alice Walker. And, to be clear, there is no question that Hurston was an uncommonly charismatic, captivating person, a creative genius, and a passionate and indomitable ethnographer. But what does her archive tell us about her life, and what might it leave out?”

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