Mules and Men


Mules and Men is a 1935 autoethnographical collection of African American folklore collected and written by Zora Neale Hurston.[1] The book explores stories collected in two trips: one in Eatonville and Polk County, Florida and one in New Orleans.[1][2] 70 pieces of folktales are documented in the Florida trip alone, while the New Orleans trip documents a number of stories about Marie Laveau and other voodoo traditions.[1]

The book straddles both her own reemersion in the folklore of her childhood, and a desire to scientifically document those traditions as part of the emergent anthropological sciences.[3][4] Subsequently, the book has been described as an important text for both canonization of Hurston in both American and African American literature, and in developing fields like ethnography and critical race theory.[2][5][6]


The work has a significant legacy in African American literature and anthropology. Mentor and writer of the preface, the father of American anthropology Franz Boas wrote that "the great merit of Miss Hurston's work that she entered into the homely life of the southern Negro" with a "charm of a loveable personality and of a revealing style"[1]

  1. ^ a b c d "Plot Summaries". Zora Hurston Archive. University of Central Florida Center for Humanities and Digital Research. Retrieved April 5, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Hern, Graciela (1993). "Multiple Mediations in Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men" (PDF). Critique of Anthropology. 13 (4). 
  3. ^ Lin, Jung-Hsien (2013). "Between Literature and Science: Inscribing Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men in the Post-human Condition". LUX: A Journal of Transdisciplinary Writing and Research from Claremont Graduate University. 3 (1). 
  4. ^ Meisenhelder, Susan (1996-01-01). "Conflict and Resistance in Zora Neale Hurston's Mules and Men". The Journal of American Folklore. 109 (433): 267–288. doi:10.2307/541531. JSTOR 541531. 
  5. ^ Dorst, John (1987-08-01). "Rereading Mules and Men: Toward the Death of the Ethnographer". Cultural Anthropology. 2 (3): 305–318. doi:10.1525/can.1987.2.3.02a00030. ISSN 1548-1360. 
  6. ^ Wall, Cheryl A. (1989-01-01). "Mules and Men and Women: Zora Neale Hurston's Strategies of Narration and Visions of Female Empowerment". Black American Literature Forum. 23 (4): 661–680. doi:10.2307/2904095. JSTOR 2904095. 

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