Event Title

The Spatialization of Identity in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Presenter Information

Maia Baker, Dickinson College

Location

Stern Center Great Room

Start Date

18-4-2019 5:30 PM

Description

Begun with Christine de Pizan’s metaphorical City of Ladies, women’s literature in the West has developed a tradition of literary space as a means of re-encoding and resisting oppressive systems. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God advances a sustained project of space to develop the protagonist Janie’s spatialized consciousness of herself as a black woman. Ultimately, Janie occupies her multiply situated identity to both exercise agency in a social location and to navigate the racist and patriarchal powers that constitute U.S. space. This intersectional reading of Their Eyes is particularly appropriate to the novel’s project of space because intersectionality is itself a spatial concept, interpreting agentic or oppressed space as contingent on structures of power. In Their Eyes, Hurston illuminates the paradox between agency and oppression in Janie’s specific spatial consciousness of her surroundings and herself.

Presentation Type

Presentation

Comments

Advisor: Assistant Professor Katie Oliviero

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Apr 18th, 5:30 PM

The Spatialization of Identity in Their Eyes Were Watching God

Stern Center Great Room

Begun with Christine de Pizan’s metaphorical City of Ladies, women’s literature in the West has developed a tradition of literary space as a means of re-encoding and resisting oppressive systems. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God advances a sustained project of space to develop the protagonist Janie’s spatialized consciousness of herself as a black woman. Ultimately, Janie occupies her multiply situated identity to both exercise agency in a social location and to navigate the racist and patriarchal powers that constitute U.S. space. This intersectional reading of Their Eyes is particularly appropriate to the novel’s project of space because intersectionality is itself a spatial concept, interpreting agentic or oppressed space as contingent on structures of power. In Their Eyes, Hurston illuminates the paradox between agency and oppression in Janie’s specific spatial consciousness of her surroundings and herself.