The Religion & Culture Web Forum
The Preacher in the Text:
Zora Neale Hurston and the Homiletics of Literature
By M. Cooper
University of Chicago
This month, the Web Forum presents an essay by Cooper Harriss, which considers the role of the “preacherly voice” in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston and its influence on American vernacular literature:
By the 1930s, preachers and their sermons came to occupy a prominent position in Hurston’s anthropological research and writing, as well as in her fiction. Beyond providing a cultural frame of reference for Hurston the novelist, her anthropological treatments of preachers and preaching reflect a preacherly rhetoric central to the speakerly nature of her fiction. Further, preaching and homiletics provide useful tools for literary criticism that have been long neglected, but that were prominent in Hurston’s broader literary worldview.
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