The Unadapted: Warner Bros. Reads Zora Neale Hurston

lecture by Elizabeth Binggeli, Postdoctoral Instructor, English and Cinema & Media Studies
Thursday, February 19, 2009 - 5:00pm

Introduction by Associate Professor James Lastra , Committee on Cinema & Media Studies.

This talk explores previously unexamined studio archival records from the 1930s and 1940s related to Hollywood’s reception of the works of African American novelist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, demonstrating that Hurston’s literary work was shaped by a desire to both see her works adapted to film and to rearticulate Hollywood’s entrenched codes of racial representation.

In particular, Binggeli makes the case that Hurston’s 1948 novel “Seraph on the Suwanee” was a deliberate attempt to cite the 1946 MGM adaptation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's novel “The Yearling,” and that this citation encouraged the readers of the Warner Bros. story department to consider her novel for studio purchase.

Co-sponsored by Center for the Study of Race, Culture and Politics, and Center for Gender Studies