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Volume 3, Number 2, Winter 2005 Monica L. Miller, Guest Editor
Jumpin' at the Sun: Reassessing the
Life and Work of Zora Neale Hurston
About this Issue
About the Contributors

Issue 3.2 Homepage

About this Issue

Jumpin' at the Sun: Reassessing the Life and Work of Zora Neale Hurston takes as its point of departure the October 2003 Virginia C. Gildersleeve Conference of the same name. Hosted by the Barnard Center for Research on Women, the conference gathered together the most exciting names in Hurston scholarship for a daylong examination of a principle figure of the Harlem Renaissance and one of Barnard's most extraordinary alumnae. We're honored to feature their work in this—the eighth—issue of The Scholar & Feminist Online.

From the start of this project, Professor Monica Miller, who was instrumental in both planning the conference and bringing this issue of the journal to fruition, hoped to better understand today's renewed and seemingly ever-rising interest in Hurston's life, the phenomenon perhaps most fittingly known as "Zoramania." It is certainly, in the words of Professor Miller's introduction, "fascinating to witness and analyze the many ways in which her person and her work touch, intrigue, and challenge so many people," but rather than simply contribute to a trend that tends toward hagiography, the essays assembled here focus a critical eye on our culture's current obsession with Hurston. How, they ask, might we acknowledge Zora's exemplary gifts and contributions while, at the same time, saving her from being simplified for the sake of mere celebration? How might we recover her "from icon status"? The scholars assembled here, including Valerie Boyd, Ann duCille, Carla Kaplan, Anthea Kraut, Cheryl Wall, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Alice Walker, whose 1975 article, "In Search of Zora Neale Hurston" went a long way in rescuing Hurston from obscurity, present bold views of Hurston's life and legacy, and offer challenging answers to these questions.

Hurston was a distinguished scholar in her own right and, as an anthropologist, would likely appreciate the thoughtful analyses and meticulous research presented here. But she was also a novelist, playwright and performer, and any thorough investigation of her life needs to honor these elements as well. In this spirit, we include video excerpts of dramatic readings of some of Hurston's most beloved works. Under the direction of Peter Campbell, student members of BOSS (Barnard Organization of Soul Sisters) perform selections from Their Eyes Were Watching God, Color Struck and "How It Feels to Be Colored Me." David Krasner, a leading scholar on Harlem Renaissance drama and on the dramatic works of Zora Neale Hurston, provides commentary.

We round out the issue with a small exhibition from the Barnard College Archives, which give rare insight into the racial climate and tensions that were found on campus during Hurston's time at Barnard, along with a collection of essays and testimonials in which recent students, many responding to a number of racist incidents that have rocked the Barnard-Columbia campus, contemplate how Hurston's work and life resonate at Barnard and Columbia today.

Janet Jakobsen and David Hopson

Tools 3.2 Online Resources Recommended Reading S&F Online in the Classroom
S&F Online - Issue 3.2, Jumpin' at the Sun: Reassessing the Life and Work of Zora Neale Hurston
Monica L. Miller, Guest Editor - ©2005.