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The Academic Department of HarperCollins Publishers is devoted to providing the best in fiction and non-fiction titles and instructor resources for high school and college levels.

We also provide discounted exam copies for educators and are happy to help with desk copy requests through our online form. We hope the resources you’ll find throughout our site, including teaching guides, will help you decide which books are right for you and your students. As always, if you have any questions, please email us at academic@harpercollins.com.

Diane Burrowes
Kim Racon
Michael Fynan

Academic Marketing Department
HarperCollins Publishers

First-Year Student

With a wide variety of books to spark discussion, HarperAcademic’s selection of First-Year titles is the perfect place to find the common book for your students.

Click here to view our First-Year website where you will find new and featured titles, past NODA and FYE speakers’ presentations, and information on special editions and bulk ordering. We’re happy to provide suggestions and sample copies. Contact us at academic@harpercollins.com.

Zora Neale Hurston Syllabus Project

Every Tongue Got to Confess – Zora Neale Hurston Syllabus Project

In honor of the impending publication of Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon, we’d like to continue sharing our syllabus suggestions for Hurston’s backlist.  This week, we look at Every Tongue Got to Confess.  For a full list of Hurston backlist suggested course use, visit our Zora Neale Hurston Syllabus Project.

Every Tongue Got to Confess

Zora Neale Hurston journeyed through the American Gulf States for an anthropological study funded by Charlotte Osgood Mason, a wealthy philanthropist. Mules and Men, Hurston’s first major anthropological text, emerged as the published result of this late-1920s study. But much more of Hurston’s collected folklore from this period was published posthumously in 2001 in Every Tongue Got to Confess: Negro Folk-tales from the Gulf States.

Every Tongue Got to Confess features nearly 500 folktales, ranging in length from one sentence to a few pages. Together, this bittersweet, often hilarious collection weaves a vibrant tapestry of African-American life in the rural South, covertly revealing attitudes about faith, love, family, slavery, race, and community in the process.

Suggested Course Use

Hurston’s collection, written in the Southern black vernacular of the 1920s, has been used in narrative theory, ethnography, African-American literature, and women’s literature courses. It is often used in conjunction with books like Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman (and Other Tales), in order to examine the complicated concept of “oral literature,” and the process of translation, and thereby interpretation, that must occur in any adaptation from the oral to the written form.

Aside from examining what is gained and lost in this interpretation, any examination of Hurston’s work must also examine its political implications, especially when referring to the continuing conflicts between black and white Americans. Euro-American culture has traditionally validated only written works as “literature,” therefore casting African “orature” as unfit and unworthy. In light of this, many intriguing questions for your students will arise:

• Is working within the European-framework of written literature debasing African oral tradition by suggesting that stories must be written in order to be valued?

• Or, are Hurston’s written folktales spreading these stories to a wider audience, celebrating them in the process?

• Alternatively, in writing these stories down in the black vernacular, is Hurston compelling those of European backgrounds to become complicit in the oral tradition as well, as reading the vernacular is easiest when the words are sounded out and pronounced out loud?

Example Syllabi
American Folklore and Folklife: University of Hawaii