It’s the middle of summer; what season could be better to read folklorist Zora Neale Hurston’s renowned Their Eyes Were Watching God? The heat, ethnography, and Dr. Dom’s position as the current State Folklorist of Florida inspired us to explore the history of folklore in this Southern state through the legacy of Hurston for this month’s episode of Folk Cited.
The first half of this episode features a discussion of the life and legacy (mostly chronologically) of Hurston and her relationship to the field of folklore. We then jump into a book summary and discussion of elements we noticed as folklorists, highlighting the parts that were most meaningful to us and our shared role as ethnographers.
The second half of this episode features our climactic conclusions about the end of the book, a rapid fire things you would only pick up on from the text if you lived in Florida, and a deeper dive into Hurston’s Library of Congress field recordings and some modern day references to the folklore she brings to life through her novel. Don’t forget to count the costume changes throughout parts 1 & 2 of this episode – there are so many!
You can watch this Folk Cited Episode in two parts: Parts 1 & 2 are available to $5+ patrons on our Patreon. Give us a like and a shoutout if you found the content entertaining and would like us to continue making Folk Cited episodes like this one!
Daisy & Dom
More about Hurston & her Fieldwork:
- Notable Folklorists of Color series by the American Folklore Society
- ZNH Fieldwork Footage 1928 NYC American Museum of Natural History (the film from Part 2).
- Hurston Collection at the Library of Congress American Folklife Center
Text Recommendations inspired by this Episode:
- Of Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston
- “Re(Making) the Folk: The Folk in Early African American Folklore Studies and Postbellum, PreHarlem Literature” by Ebony Bailey (dissertation)
- “Folklife and Fieldwork: An Introduction to Field Techniques” from the Library of Congress. 1st edition by Peter Bartis.