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AFS Review: Notes

Laura Wilson Receives 2018 Zora Neale Hurston Prize

Wednesday, November 14, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rosalind V. Rini Larson
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The 2018 Zora Neale Hurston Prize was awarded during the 2018 AFS Annual Meeting in Buffalo, NY, to Laura Wilson, a 4th-year Ph.D. student in English literature at the University of Mississippi. Her paper is entitled “’Both literary and anthropological’: Reconsidering the Methodological Identity of Zora Neale Hurston’s Mules and Men.”

Though it’s not a requirement of/for the prize, the committee liked the fact that the paper dealt specifically with Hurston herself in several ways:

  • Hurston’s life and experiences were discussed: growing up in Eatonville, various educational experiences, relationships with mentors, influences that led to her methodological combination of literary, artistic, and anthropological perspectives.
  • This was a nice exploration of Hurston’s fieldwork and the fact of her being an insider for the most part, and its influence on her fieldwork.
  • Though it was only briefly touched on, with references to Clifford Geertz’s and Ruth Behar’s works, Hurston’s methodology is now an accepted practice.

The prize is named for the pioneering folklorist, ethnographer, and creative writer Zora Neale Hurston, who lived from 1891 to 1960, worked in and wrote extensively about African American communities throughout the southern U.S., and is internationally known for her folklore collection Mules and Men (1935) and her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), as well as other notable works. The $250 prize is given to a graduate or undergraduate student for the best work in any medium—including but not limited to papers, films, sound recordings, or exhibitions—on African American folklore. Works submitted for prize consideration do not have to be about Hurston herself.

The prize committee consisted of Rachel González-Martin, Anika Wilson, and Marilyn M. White. The committee received three submissions, and would like to thank all three submitters.



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