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An Ex-centric Approach to American Cultural Studies: The Interesting Case of Zora Neale Hurston as a Noncanonical Writer

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 July 2009

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The authors of these passages share more than a belief in the efficacy of the category of “race” and a need to assert pride in their African-American heritage. Both have, of late, experienced notable recognition and affirmation from constituencies that typically evince little interest in black Americans and their culture. Zora Neale Hurston is one of only three or four 20th-century writers who have achieved canonical status, with the result that her works invariably appear in courses offered in American literature or American Studies, not just in more narrowly de-fined courses, such as African-American Writers or American Women Writers. Clarence Thomas, as the second black Supreme Court Justice, holds the highest position in government ever held by an African American. Arguably, his judicial position and her supreme reputation are the result of the affirmative action and desegregation programs (and in his case, the “multicultural” mandate) they oppose. Perhaps their opposition to these programs is what fits them for this crossover appeal. In effect, they deny the reality of the effects of segregation – unequal funding, and therefore poorer education and continuing secondary employment, housing, and so on – on most black Americans.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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