Their Eyes Were Watching God Annotated Bibliography
The MLA database returned 168 bibliographic entries containing the subject heading ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God.’ In choosing which entries to include in this annotated bibliography, my objective was to represent as many interpretive approaches to the text as possible in order to illustrate the exponential expansion in the scope of Hurston studies in recent years. Also, because of the condensed time frame of this class, I only reviewed items that are available to UAH students on campus or online, although this criterion excluded several significant critical responses to the novel. Unless otherwise noted, the full texts of all of the articles listed here can be retrieved via EBSCOhost. Ashe, Bertram D. "’Why Don't He Like My Hair?’: Constructing African-American Standards of Beauty in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon And Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God." African American Review 29.4 (Winter 1995): 579-93. Because of the strong social pressure to conform to predefined notions of conventional (read European) beauty that the dominant culture exerts on all American women, Black women have historically been judged as attractive or unattractive according to the degree to which their facial features, hair, and skin color conform to European norms. In Their Eyes, although Hurston describes Janie as having light skin and long hair, Janie does not isolate herself from dark-skinned African Americans. Janie’s hair is linked to her self-esteem and her engagement in the community, and as such, it becomes the battleground of her struggles with Joe Starks. Janie’s choice of hairstyle after Starks’ death ("one thick braid swinging well below her waist") can be interpreted as a phallic image that metaphorically refers to her newfound power and self-determination. Brogan, Jacqueline Vaught. "The Hurston/Walker/Vaughn Connection: Feminist Strategies in American Fiction." Women's Studies 28.2 (1999): 185-201. In positing an interpretive framework for Elizabeth Vaughn’s 1990 novel, Many Things Have Happened Since He Died, Brogan discusses the relationship between Walker’s The Color Purple and Hurston’s Their Eyes. She notes that both novels have been criticized for failing as realistic fiction, both can be interpreted as romances in the vein of Shakespeare’s The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale, and both deal thematically with the ‘awakening’ of an abused female. Curren, Erik D. "Should Their Eyes Have Been Watching God?: Hurston's Use of Religious Experience and Gothic Horror." African American Review 29.1 (Spring 1995): 17-26. Critics have not sufficiently accounted for the complexity of Their Eyes, and many analyses have followed Alice Walker’s contention that Janie is a depiction of "racial health." A less biased reading of the text reveals much tragedy and horror that few critical interpretations have addressed. The novel’s title refers to the incipient slave mentality of African Americans, demonstrated by the field hands’ reversion to enslaved patterns of behavior in the face of the hurricane. Paralleling the figurative system of Hurston’s Mules and Men, God is likened to a slavemaster in the Their Eyes. Hurston subverts gothic conventions in the service of affirming the importance of folklore. Davis, Rose Parkman. Zora Neale Hurston: An Annotated Bibliography and Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood P, 1997. This volume presents an excellently balanced and exhaustive compilation of Hurston scholarship through 1996. (Available in UAH Library Reference section; no circulation) Donlon, Jocelyn Hazelwood. "Porches: Stories: Power: Spatial and Racial Intersections in Faulkner and Hurston." Journal of American Culture 19.4 (Winter 1996): 95-111. The porch serves as the point of intersection for "spatial, social, and racial" in Southern culture and literature, as exemplified by Hurtson’s Their Eyes and Faulkner’s Absalom! Absalom!. In Their Eyes, porches are equated...
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