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Title:"I Love Myself When I Am Laughing": Tracing the Origins of Black Folk Comedy in Zora Neale Hurston's Plays Before "Mule Bone
Author(s):Park, Jung Man
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Davis, Peter A.
Department / Program:Theatre
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, Black
Abstract:Mule Bone (1931), Zora Neale Hurston's collaboration with Langston Hughes, has been credited as the 'first' attempted by African Americans to create 'Negro folk comedy.' This dissertation is driven from a question to the recent scholarship's tacit consent on such historic importance imposed on this play. This study suggests a possibility that there existed other works from the same time-period as Mule Bone that could be considered to comprise the origins of black folk comedy. For evidence, this dissertation introduces three selected plays---Spears (1925), Color Struck (1926), and De Turkey and De Law (1930)---that Hurston wrote before and during her collaboration with Hughes on Mule Bone. The aim of this dissertation is three-fold. First, it examines the way in which Hurston's three pre- Mule Bone plays satisfy the requisites for black folk comedy. Secondly, it traces the development process within which her writing of this genre made progression in terms of content, form and style to full-fledged maturity. Lastly, this dissertation attempts to antedate the origins of black folk comedy to Hurston's pre-Mule Bone plays without depreciating the contents, form and style of Mule Bone as a black folk comedy. This dissertation suggests a cohesive framework of development model of black folk comedy to charts the process within which the limitations as a black 'folk' drama in Spears were overcome in Color Struck and the remaining limitations as a folk 'comedy' in this play are finally resolved in De Turkey and De Law. This dissertation concludes that De Turkey and De Law deserves a right as a possible origin of black folk comedy because it was completed and copyrighted three months prior to Mule Bone and truly made a new departure in the African American drama. Adding to knowledge about often-ignored career of Hurston as a playwright, and supplementing the dearth of research on Hurston's earlier plays with critical analysis of the plays and discussion of their validity as black folk comedy, this dissertation suggests a way of reconsidering the origin of this genre and suggests Hurston's pre-Mule Bone plays as a possibility.
Issue Date:2007
Description:280 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3269998
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-28
Date Deposited:2007

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