Zora Neale Hurston

zora neale hurston pic


Who was Zora Neale Hurston?

As you take a moment to explore Hurston’s hometown, be sure to view Eatonville from multiple lenses and to take notes. Click on the Google map included below, visit the town’s official website, skim the NY Times article about Eatonville’s historical legacy, and watch PBS’ biography on Hurston. Remember that it is important to fully understand an author’s background prior to reading their work. (Please note: The images below are hyperlinked. Click through and have some fun!)

Discover Hurston Below

Where’s Eatonville?

Eatonville Florida Map

Eatonville’s Official Page

eatonville website
Eatonville’s Website

The New York Times on Eatonville

NYT- Eatonville

In a Town Apart, the Pride and Trials of Black Life – The New York Times

(Sometimes The New York Times forces you to subscribe, if you cannot access the school’s subscription to the publication, please click the link above where I’ve posted a PDF of the article.)


PBS’ Biography of Hurston


Florida Today’s Photos of Zora Neale Hurston

florida today

Assignment #1:

After you’ve discovered Zora Neale Hurston and her hometown, Eatonville, FL, create a video explaining what you’ve learned. You may use any platform you choose (i.e.- Snapchat, TikTok, IG, etc.) but your video must answer the questions below. Please post your videos on this Padlet.  Note: Since this is a public site, I have made the Padlet password protected. Click on your reading schedule to find the password. As the moderator of the Padlet, I also have to approve your posts before they appear on the page.)


Questions to Answer:

  1. Who was Zora Neale Hurston? (Include pivotal moments in her life and career)
  2. How did Hurston’s birthplace influence her writing? (Include major themes, use of dialect, etc.)
  3. Now that you know that Hurston was an anthropologist, how might her work in the field have influenced her writing?

Short Works

How it feels to be colored me- hurston

“How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” 1928 (Without Helpful Notes)

“How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” 1928 (With Helpful Notes)

sweat 2

“Sweat,” 1926


Assignment #2

  1. Read and annotate “How It Feels to Be Colored Me.” Note that I have attached two copies of Hurston’s essay above. The first copy is a plain PDF of her essay sans helpful tips. The second copy is from a textbook and provides helpful side notes in addition to defining difficult vocabulary words. Please use whichever copy makes you feel most comfortable.
    • I highly suggest printing out the essay before you annotate it as reading the printed word is far gentler on the eyes.
    • Also note that your annotations may be in any format you choose (i.e.- directly on the printed essay, on a separate Google doc, on lined paper in your notebook, etc.).
  2. Complete the critical analysis question in Google Classroom. Click on “Classwork,” go to the appropriate assignment, and post your response.
  3. Thoughtfully respond to two of your peers’ posts before logging off.


Assignment #3

  1. Read and annotate “Sweat.” As we’ve discussed in class, it is far better to print the short story if you have the ability to do so. There is only one hyperlinked copy of the PDF above. Although the short story starts on page four (4), I strongly encourage you to read Hurston’s biography. Every time you read about her life, it’s another opportunity to familiarize yourself with a writer who walked brazenly into public spaces and demanded respect.
    • Please remember to annotate your read of this text.
  2. Complete your assigned literature circle roles. A literature circle is a teaching tool used to piecemeal an analysis of a difficult work. Students in the class will be assigned specific roles. Each student will work diligently to accomplish their task and return to the following class period ready to lead a Harkness discussion. Please find the roles below. I will post assignments specific to each class period on your private reading schedules.
    1. Playback Pro
      1. Your job will initially be the most important.
      2. As we read the text, you must explain major plot shifts and help your peers understand what is happening in “Sweat.”
      3. Then for homework, write a well-written summary of the text.
    2. THE Merriam Webster
      1. Define and provide explanations for the following terms:
        • mirth
        • truculently
        • meekness
        • cowed
        • sow
        • agape
        • introspection
        • retrospection
        • (include the short story’s footnotes)
      2. Be prepared to explain your findings during the discussion. You may find that the class will define a word or concept during day 2’s discussion. It is your job to add that term to your list with the class’s definition.
    3. “Theme” is Your Middle Name
      1. Compile and explain the major thematic ideas in the assigned piece of literature
      2. Remember that your voice as well as your notes will be vital during the Harkness discussion
    4. Characters Bend to Your Every Whim
      1. Create a characterization chart that includes every character in the literary word. You must conclude whether each character is static or dynamic.
      2. Be sure to trace major shifts in a character’s development
    5. Anthropologist Extraordinaire
      1. Think deeply about the intersections between culture and geography
      2. What do readers learn about the characters’ environment based on the way they treat one another? Communicate? Eat? Dress? Live?
      3. Remember that later in her life Hurston became an anthropologist. Her writing, even her earlier pieces are filled with such rich descriptions that you should record for your classmates.
    6. Harkness Guru
      1. It is your job to create critical thinking questions for our Harkness discussion on day 2
      2. Compose at least ten (10) open-ended questions that prompt your peers to dig deeper
      3. Although you will personally lead the discussion, all of your peers should help you do so. They must each participate and offer insightful information that pertain to their own assigned roles.
    7. The Next Dr. Seuss
      1. It is your job to illustrate the literary work.
      2. You get to choose the medium, but your task remains the same. Create images that encompass the major scenes of the text.
      3. Please create at least three different images
    8. Connection Wizard
      1. We’ve read and discussed so many different pieces this year. Your job is to make connections between the assigned literature and previous works and ideas.
      2. For instance, for “Sweat” you should make connections between Langston Hughes’ work, the Harlem Renaissance, and The Great Gatsby
      3. My hope is that you don’t stop at the three ideas above. Push yourself to think outside of the box.
    9. Literary God(dess)
      1. Consider yourself an expert in literary devices and figurative language
      2. Your job is to note all analogies, figurative comparisons, and the like in addition to the author’s stylistic tendencies.
      3. Help your peers dig deeper by pointing our details they may have missed.
      4. Don’t stop by pointing out four or five metaphors– really push yourself to find the hidden gems in the author’s work.

Remember that each person must participate in the Harkness discussion.

Please post your required material before the start of your class period.

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