Zora Neale Hurston and the Gendered Fictions of Black Modernity
This chapter discusses Zora Neale Hurston's framing of spirit possession. In exploring the aesthetic politics that inform Hurston's Tell My Horse, it invokes a characterisation of asymmetry — ‘the abrupt and unexpected changes that characterize race and gender's relationship to modernity’ — as a method of unpicking Hurston's innovative critiques of existing orders of modernism. Reading through a black feminist critical model, the chapter suggests that in her writing about Haiti and Jamaica, by denying the teleology of racial and gendered progress, and suggesting simultaneities of difference within black Atlantic culture, Hurston succeeds in asymmetrically ‘possessing’ modernity.
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