Paula White of APSU selected for National Endowment for the Humanities’ Zora Neale Hurston Institute

“Oldest: Clarksville-Montgomery County area TDOT Work commencing June 17, 2021

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, Tennessee – Dr Paula White of Austin Peay State University (APSU) is one of the 25 scholars selected for a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute which will explore the works of Zora Neale Hurston.

Zora Neale Hurston, circa 1938, from the Carl Van Vechten collection held by the Library of Congress.

Zora Neale Hurston, circa 1938, from the Carl Van Vechten Collection held by the Library of Congress.

The institute, “Hurston on the Horizon: Past, Present, and Future,” is hosted by The Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas and will put White in virtual contact with academics from across the country.

“This is the highest level in terms of intensity,” said White, an assistant professor at the Department of Languages ​​and Literatures of APSU mentionned. “It is an intensive study of Hurston, his fiction, his ethnography, his essays and how Hurston fits into the present moment.”

The “Hurston on the Horizon” institute will immerse White in a 20-day study from Hurston’s wide range of cultural productions. The institute starts on July 11.

The institute will also allow White to work with leading Hurston academics, such as Deborah Plant, Carla Kaplan, John Lowe, Claudine Raynaud and Carmaletta Williams.

Austin Peay State University professor Dr. Paula White. (APSU)

Austin Peay State University Professor Paula White. (APSU)

“It gives me the opportunity to reassess how Hurston fits into my argument for black feminist literary studies,” she added.

“The ancestor of black feminist literary studies”

A former colleague at the University of Mississippi who was aware of White’s research told him “Hurston on the horizon.”

“We had several conversations about (Hurston) and how she is the focus of my research, and she was specifically the focus of my dissertation considering her to be sort of an ancestor of black feminist literary studies,” White said. .

Most people know Hurston from his 1937 novel Their eyes looked at God, but Hurston’s work spans three other novels, 50 short stories, plays, and essays spanning nearly 40 years.

“When you think of what black feminist literary studies are, we often go back to the literary renaissance of black women of the 70s and 80s, so we start to associate black feminist literary studies with writers like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.” said Blanc. “But if we really take a look at this literature, some of the same things and some of the same subjects challenging social norms and gender roles, Hurston is already doing that in his fiction.

“I would read these writers, and it would just bring me back to Hurston.”

In 2019, White traveled to Hurston’s hometown of Eatonville, Florida, and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts to conduct research, including interviews.

“I’ve had a lot of reports and a lot of research on this trip, in 2019, and it was right there because of the pandemic.”

The institute will reinvigorate White’s work.

“And to see (Hurston) centered like that, backed by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is just an amazing opportunity,” she said. “I’m going to get to know her better, not only through her fiction… but to gain a more comprehensive overview and exposure to her work. “

In addition to the virtual summer institute, the selected fellows will also participate in a series of webinars in the fall providing the opportunity to connect with contemporary writers.

The group will also meet at the Zora 2022! Festival in Eatonville, Florida.

And after

White specializes in African American literature and black feminist literary studies. Her research focuses on 20th century black women writers in black, southern and queer literature. His next manuscript, tentatively titled Black feminism and the new negro, traces the origins of black feminist literary studies to the fiction of the Harlem Renaissance.

“The manuscript will look specifically at the new Negro movement, born out of the Harlem Renaissance era, and black feminism, existing in this space or the black feminist literary studies existing in this space,” she said. .

White also hopes to share what she learns at the institute with her students and the Austin Peay community. She teaches African-American literature in the Department of Languages ​​and Literature. She also teaches in APSU’s Women and Gender Studies and African American Studies programs, both housed in the Department of Languages ​​and Literature and the College of Arts and Letters.

“I have the idea of ​​a BIPOC women’s book club (black, native, people of color) to expose students and the university community to women writers of color because most of us don’t have been exposed to writers of color, especially women writers of color, “she said.

White is also working on an article that explores literature written by the Niggerati, a self-proclaimed 1920s countercultural group of black artists and intellectuals. And White is teaming up with Drs APSU. Eva gibson and Jessica fripp – the two professors of the APSU Department of Psychological Sciences and Counseling – to write about their experiences navigating academia as black women, especially their experience working with the African American Employee Council at Austin Peay State University.

To learn more

To learn more about the APSU Department of Languages ​​and Literature at Austin Peay, visit

To learn more about the Hurston on the Horizon Institute, visit



The subjects

APSU, APSU Department of Languages ​​and Literature, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, Clarksville TN, University of Kansas, University of Mississippi

About Christopher Rodgers

Check Also

Monica Cheru on Rethinking African Literature

(This is the final interview report with a panel of African writers on August 7. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.