September 17, 2009
Elizabeth Blevins, Director, Office of Communications
Office: (740) 351-3810; FAX: (740) 351-3179; Cell: (740) 464-4854
940 Second Street – Portsmouth, Ohio 45662
Web site: www.shawnee.edu
Shawnee State University Professor Presents Lecture on
Folklorist from Federal Writer’s Project
As part of the “Soul of a People: Writing America’s Story”
project at Shawnee State University, Dr. Barbara Kunkle,
professor of English and American Culture, will present a
public lecture on a noted writer and folklorist who worked
on the Federal Writer’s Project, Zora Neal Hurston, an
The program will be presented at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept.
24 at the Flohr Lecture Hall in SSU’s Clark Memorial
Library. The program is free and open to the public.
Hurston, author of “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” among
others, worked on the project for more than a year. She
contributed to the WPA Guide to Florida and recorded songs
and stories along Florida’s Gulf Coast. She was a leading
figure of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s.
Hurston grew up in Eatonville, Fla., the first incorporated
all-black township in America and this was the setting for
her book “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” The story unfolds
with the women of Eatonville gossiping about Janie Crawford,
the book’s heroine.
Although Hurston wrote several books and participated in
valuable community projects for the WPA, she died in poverty
and was buried in an unmarked grave in 1960. In 1975,
another black woman writer, Alice Walker, published an
article in Ms. Magazine about Hurston and launched a Hurston
revival. Today, she has reached a status as a great American
writer and her books are read now more than they were in her
Kunkle’s lecture is part of a series of public programs
being produced with the financial support of a “Soul of a
People” grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities
and the American Library Association. Connie Stoner,
director of Clark Memorial Library, is directing the grant
and Dr. Andrew Feight is the lead scholar for the program.
SSU’s library was one of only 30 libraries across the
country to receive the grant.