Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 1: Preface
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Their eyes might’ve been watching God, but our eyes are watching Zora Neal Hurston. Hit play to learn more about Hurston and the Harlem Renaissance.
|Literature||Their Eyes Were Watching God|
Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Zora Neale Hurston's great book
about Janie. A coming of age story that's
seminal in that it, for the first time or maybe a very early time,
took a young, Black woman,
treated her like a real human being
with normal human emotions and dreams
and everything else, and humanized a whole
coming of age experience for a Black teen in America
in the early 20th century.
So we're talking here as usual with Dr. Deb,
who's gonna unravel the stories and tell us why their eyes were watching God
at the very end.
So, Deb, tell us a little bit about Zora Neale. Start there.
How does she anchor herself structurally in this story?
So Zora Neale Hurston grew up in an all-black town in the South.
And she went to high school,
made her way through college.
Wasn't easy, but she got herself there.
And then she moved to Harlem at about 35 years old.
And this was right smack dab in the middle of the Harlem Renaissance.
So that's how she got involved with that movement.
And she really is known as
the only prominent female figure in the Harlem Renaissance
that you read about in all the canonical textbooks.
And give us a sense for what Harlem was like,
because Harlem has had like 18 lives
as it's gone through. So in that era, contextually,
what was it like?
So Harlem was a place where,
at that point, all of these black artists
and artists of all kinds: writers, musicians, et cetera,
came together. And this word "renaissance" means rebirth,
and that's exactly what was happening
is they were kind of reclaiming Black culture
as a legitimate art form, which it had been understood not to be previously.
And that's kind of what Their Eyes Were Watching God is all about,
reclaiming Black folk culture as a legitimate art form.
And that's what was happening in the Harlem Renaissance.
The Harlem Renaissance is the reason we have access
to so much amazing Black art and culture
today, even. Everything that came after that was influenced by these folks.
[ pen writing ]
Who was Zora Neale Hurston?
What was the Harlem Renaissance?
All right, here we go.