Understanding Zora Neale Hurston's 'Their Eyes Were Watching God'

A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" highlights the vitality of African American culture. This casebook demonstrates how African Americans fashioned themselves individually and collectively to combat racism, classism and sexism. With provocative documents that contextualize the complex issues of the novel, Lester provides an excellent resource for students and teachers first approaching the excitement and cultural flavor that define Hurston's novels.

The casebook is an encyclopedia of African American folk culture that simultaneously presents historical, political, and social commentary on the relationships between men and women and between blacks and whites in America. Documents include interviews with people living in the South at the time of the novel's publication, poetry, rap, folktales and sermons. Also included are original materials on ebonics, minstrel songs, the blues tradition, the novel in theatrical and dance performance and materials on Hurston's hometown of Eatonville, Florida.


Neal A. Lester is a Foundation Professor of English at Arizona State University, where he is the founding director of the award-winning Project Humanities.