Professors to join Zora Neal Hurston conference

July 11, 2021 GMT

English professors from universities in Louisiana and Mississippi are among 25 scholars invited to participate in a virtual conference about the Black writer Zora Neale Hurston.

LaToya Jefferson-James, an assistant professor at Mississippi Valley State University, and Angela Watkins, a visiting assistant professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, are among 22 professors and three graduate students to attend the conference July 11-30.

“The 25 selected scholars will work with top Zora Neale Hurston literary scholars from the U.S. and abroad,” the University of Kansas said in a news release.

They were chosen from among more than 100 applicants — the largest number for any conference arranged by the Project on the History of Black Writing, according to the university.


Hurston had been one of the most neglected figures in American and African American literature until her 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was reprinted in 1978, according to the institute’s website. Understanding that turnaround “is significant for understanding the critical turns in 20th-century literary history,” it said.

The institute is supported by a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.