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Framing the Folk: Zora Neale Hurston, John Millington Synge, and the Politics of Aesthetic Ethnography

Framing the Folk: Zora Neale Hurston, John Millington Synge, and the Politics of Aesthetic... FRAMING THE FOLK: ZORA NEALE HURSTON, JOHN MILLINGTON SYNGE, AND THE POLITICS OF AESTHETIC ETHNOGRAPHY Anthony R. Hale Contrary to what many young critics may recall, African American literature has always been subject to comparisons. Not so long ago, its merits and defects were solely determined by how well it mimicked Anglo-American forms. The obligatory "authenticating documentation" affixed to the beginning of virtually every slave narrative, from that of Frederick Douglass to Harriet Wilson, reminds us of the grave doubts held by dominant society about black writing's authority, authenticity, and authorship. In this cultural context, a comparison is akin to hostile assimilation. Similarly, Irish literature has served as a palimpsest upon which the British imagination has often made its mark. Historically, Irish settings and literature appear in British writing as a reductive foil --a woman to England's man, a wild, rural landscape to London's urban cityscape. In many ways, these critical comparisons form a literary cognate to oppressive systems that would deny entire peoples' autonomy or freedom. By setting in comparison my African American and Irish writers, I do not intend here merely to replicate the vices of a "timehonored tradition." Rather, I think that this particular kind http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Framing the Folk: Zora Neale Hurston, John Millington Synge, and the Politics of Aesthetic Ethnography

The Comparatist , Volume 20 (1) – Oct 3, 1996

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
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Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
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1559-0887
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Abstract

FRAMING THE FOLK: ZORA NEALE HURSTON, JOHN MILLINGTON SYNGE, AND THE POLITICS OF AESTHETIC ETHNOGRAPHY Anthony R. Hale Contrary to what many young critics may recall, African American literature has always been subject to comparisons. Not so long ago, its merits and defects were solely determined by how well it mimicked Anglo-American forms. The obligatory "authenticating documentation" affixed to the beginning of virtually every slave narrative, from that of Frederick Douglass to Harriet Wilson, reminds us of the grave doubts held by dominant society about black writing's authority, authenticity, and authorship. In this cultural context, a comparison is akin to hostile assimilation. Similarly, Irish literature has served as a palimpsest upon which the British imagination has often made its mark. Historically, Irish settings and literature appear in British writing as a reductive foil --a woman to England's man, a wild, rural landscape to London's urban cityscape. In many ways, these critical comparisons form a literary cognate to oppressive systems that would deny entire peoples' autonomy or freedom. By setting in comparison my African American and Irish writers, I do not intend here merely to replicate the vices of a "timehonored tradition." Rather, I think that this particular kind

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Oct 3, 1996

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