Their Eyes Were Watching God Essay

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The Unbearable Weight of Authenticity: Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and a Theory of “Touristic Reading” (Outline) I. Abstract A. This is a journal article that focuses on the discussion of Zora Neale Hurston's "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and how it applies to touristic reading. B. Touristic reading occurs when a reader assumes the “unbearable authenticity” of the material based on the writer’s culture and intentions of writing. C. Touristic reading can be evident when both the reader and writer have similar ethnicity background, but there is in fact greater intensity even if the reader and writer’s culture do not necessarily match. II. Introduction A. Matt Herman relates an anecdote about an instance in one of his classes whereby a student voiced out his interpretation to “fiction” despite the fact that it is considered as unbearably “authentic.” B. Hathaway writes that she wishes her students could be as astute to that of Herman’s student. C. Hathaway finds the vulnerability of the students to Touristic Reading, a fallacious practice whereby a reader assumes, when presented with a text where the writer and the group represented in the text are ethnically different from herself, that the text is necessarily accurate, authentic, and authorized representation of that “Other” cultural group (169). D. Touristic Reading can be similar to that of a tourist visiting a certain foreign place and this tourist assumes a certain reality about the place, and thus “selectively edits out signs of dynamism and contention, both within the text and within the culture” (Hathaway 169). III. Reading is like tourism. A. Just like a tourist, readers of folkloric material can have their own interpretations of the text based on the “touristic impulsions.” B. The use of folkloric material is frequently allowing readers to read touristically. This

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