Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God was at once current, forward-thinking, and timeless when it was published on September 18, 1937. Emergent writer Richard Wright harshly criticized what would become Hurston's seminal work for its supposed minstrel characterizations—for being stuck in old, stereotypical portrayals of blackness—just two weeks after its debut as part of his impassioned yet myopic effort to usher in a new era of protest literature. However, Hurston's attention to the dynamic trends of the vernacular through Their Eyes Were Watching God's celebration of folklore and dialect (i.e., the “Ah'm,” “betcha,” “no more'n,” and “humph” proclamations of rural southern black subjectivity) was timely (Their Eyes 2–3). Her unabashed embrace of a black woman's self-discovery, spirituality, and voice was progressive. Moreover, her rendering of a sensual romance at the height of Jim Crow oppression and the lows of the Great Depression not only was...

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