Interdisciplinary Speaker Series welcomes Gary Totten April 22

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Arts & Sciences


The UND Arts & Sciences Interdisciplinary Speaker Series and UND Department of English welcome Gary Totten, professor of English, North Dakota State University, to give a talk titled "Bodies of Knowledge: Black Female Mobility and Authority in Zora Neale Hurston's Tell My Horse" at 4 p.m., Tuesday, April 22, in the Chester Fritz Library East Asia Room. All are welcome to attend.

In Tell My Horse (1938), Zora Neale Hurston utilizes her visibility (as a woman of color) and mobility (as a traveler) to insure cultural preservation, connecting her status as a black female traveler to the transmission of stories, history, and cultural practices in Haiti and Jamaica. As she gains cultural competency through travel, she also acquires knowledge and expertise to act as an agent of preservation. Initially, she notes that she does not know "people and Creole," but the more time she spends in the region, the more expertise she acquires, learning Creole and becoming a cultural insider with access to information about Voodoo, zombies, and other religious or folk traditions. Because the movement of her physical body functions as a trope for the ways in which bodies of cultural knowledge might be transmitted and preserved, Hurston challenges historical notions of black travel by re-imagining slavery's Middle Passages as routes that mobilize black bodies to participate in cultural preservation.