Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Thomas Koenigs

Reader 2

Leila Mansouri


This thesis establishes parallel claims about how women’s autobiography as a genreintersects with fiction as a means to share an author’s opinions on issues of race, gender,class, and topics that the publishing industry deems ‘controversial’, using Zora Neale Hurston’s works Their Eyes Were Watching God and Dust Tracks on a Road as points of comparison. Throughout this thesis, I will show that Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel that by virtue of its content is a political novel because of how it represents an overlooked demographic of people and the novel’s ripple effect on later black female writers as one of the first novels that celebrates black female joy. TEWWG does the work of literary representation that publishers did not allow DToaR to do because of the fear that the book would not sell as well if it included more of Hurston’s own political perspective. The second claim that I make is that TEWWG is first dismissed because of its lack of ‘seriousness’ in subject matter by Hurston’s peers, but its use of nature metaphors like the horizon and the tree and motifs like desire and dreams allow for issues of gender, race, class, and love to be discussed because they are shrouded in a literary image disguise.