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Stories of OprahThe Oprahfication of American Culture$
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Trystan T. Cotten and Kimberly Springer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781604734072

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604734072.001.0001

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Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation

Irony and Contradiction in Harpo’s Production of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

(p.161) 11 Chapter Eleven Lost in Translation
Stories of Oprah

Cotten T. Trystan

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter, which examines Harpo, Inc.’s 2005 film production of Zora Neale Hurston’s novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), shows how Harpo producers deracialize the novel and mute Hurston’s black feminist voice, thus glossing America’s social consciousness of racial, class, and gender inequalities. One effect has been the whitewashing of black feminine subjectivity via Harpo’s over-romanticization of plot and wholesale gutting of Hurston’s vision of African American women’s struggles. Another has been the loss of Hurston’s love and appreciation for rural Negro culture, including her literary ingenuity in rendering its creative innovation.

Keywords:   Oprah Winfrey, Harpo Inc, Zora Neale Hurston, African American women, black feminism, Negro culture

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