Chattanooga State’s Chautauqua Series Lecture Covers “Zora Neale Hurston And The Oral Tradition”

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Humanities and Fine Arts Division of Chattanooga State Community College will host the fourth lecture of its fourth annual Chautauqua Lecture Series on Thursday.

Named after the lake in upstate New York where the first of its kind was held in 1874, a Chautauqua brings members of the community together to enjoy inspirational performances and lectures. The gatherings aimed to bring communities together in an environment of cultural enrichment and questioning.

The Humanities and Fine Arts Division invites you to join in this tradition with its slate of presentations and performances for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Chattanooga State’s Chautauqua Series will feature the informative and unique research of five ChattState Humanities and Fine Arts faculty as well as the series finale with Writers@Work 2018 visiting author George Singleton and his special guest Clyde Edgerton. The most recent of these lectures, a talk on portrayals of heroism in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was held in November and drew an enthusiastic audience, members of whom dressed up for the event.

The next Chautauqua lecture will take place on Thursday at 4 p.m. English Professor Rachael Falu will present “Zora Neale Hurston and the Oral Tradition,” a lecture based on Falu’s knowledge of and experience teaching the author’s work as part of her African-American literature courses.

Ms. Falu herself first encountered Zora Neale Hurston as an undergraduate but finds, after years of studying the inclusion of race and the South in literature and after years of teaching, that the works of the writer continue to offer new insights. “I’m interested in writers of the American South, and Hurston includes in her texts this enthralling vernacular of working class, Southern people,” Ms. Falu said.

As a professor of African-American literature, Ms. Falu teaches Hurston’s most famous work, Their Eyes Were Watching God, but her Chautauqua presentation will cover a variety of the author’s writing, including folklore, songs, short stories, and novels. Particularly intriguing to Ms. Falu is Hurston’s inclusion of dialect. “Hurston plays on words throughout her texts, but what’s really fascinating about the writer is that she brings value and authenticity to a vernacular [of the working and lower class] that was often dismissed or deemed inferior. She’s not ashamed to be truthful to the people of that time or the settings they dwelled in,” Ms. Falu said.

Following Ms. Falu’s February lecture, one additional ChattState faculty member, Josh Johnson, will present a lecture in his field of study. The final installment in the 2017-2018 Chautauqua Lecture Series will be a special event offered in partnership with the Humanities Department’s Writers@Work program, entitled “Writers@Work: Banter and Banjos.” This special event on April 5 will feature authors George Singleton and Clyde Edgerton as they discuss writing, read from their works, swap stories, and perhaps play some music.

Each Chautauqua lecture lasts approximately 60 minutes and includes a Q&A period. All sessions are offered free of charge to interested members of the Chattanooga community, and each presentation will start at 4 p.m. in the mobile classroom of the Augusta Kolwyck Library on the main campus of Chattanooga State Community College located at 4501 Amnicola Highway. A complete schedule, including dates, times, and additional information on each lecture can be found on Facebook as “Chattanooga State’s Chautauqua Series,” Instagram as “chautauqua_series”, and Twitter as “@ChautauquaSeries”. Contact Associate Professor Keri Lamb for more information at keri.lamb@chattanoogastate.edu or 423-697-2546.


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