Their Eyes Were Watching God

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TheirEyesWereWatchingGod.jpg

Artist: Zora Neale Hurston

Year: 1937

Date of Action: 1997

Region: North America

Location: Brentsville, VA

Subject: Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Literature

Confronting Bodies: Stonewall Jackson High School, Brentsville, VA

Description of Artwork: Set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century, the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God is the story of Janie Crawford, whose life is a quest to find true love. Janie narrates the story of her three marriages and her search for love to her friend Phoeby. It is the best known work by African American writer Zora Neale Hurston and the first novel published by an African American woman. The novel has come to be regarded as a seminal work in both African American literature and women's literature.

The Incident: In 1997, a parent objected to “sexual explicitness and language” in this book when it was assigned to their child at Stonewall Jackson High School in Brentsville, Virginia.

Results of Incident: After review, the book was retained on the high school English reading list. Hurston’s protagonist does experience a sexual awakening, but the scenes are mild by today’s standards. There are references to rape as Janie learns of her own family story, but there is no description.

Source:


‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ Celebrates 80 Years!, Intellectual Freedom Blog, The Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, December 7, 2017

Top 10 Banned Books that Changed the Face of Black History, NCAC, FEBRUARY 5, 2015

EXPLICIT NOVELS SPARK DEBATE AT STONEWALL, By Ann O'Hanlon, The Washington Post, September 7, 1997