This is one in a series of curated student posts from a class taught by Dr. Amy Parziale.
This Spring, the Rollins Department of English course “Women Write the Body” examined female authors and their depiction of embodiment. The first major author read for class was Zora Neale Hurston. Thanks to serendipitous timing, students were asked to extend their knowledge outside the classroom by blogging about their experiences attending the Communities Conference co-sponsored by Rollins and Association to Preserve Eatonville Community (P.E.C.).
Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of English, Rollins College
Lesson Learned from “Every Tongue Got to Confess”
It’s not often that an author re-enters the world literature stage as significantly as Zora Neale Hurston. Although her novels ebb and flow from literature curriculums, their meanings are ever as influential and important. “Every Tongue Got to Confess” is a brilliant podcast based upon Zora Neale Hurston and her book that shares the name. The podcast is meant to be about primarily Black and diverse communities and how they affect Rollins and our campus. It was started to back of the Zora! Festival, an arts and humanities festival surrounding the famous author and Eatonville, the setting of many of Hurston’s novels.
In the second episode of the podcast, Professor Robert Cassanello speaks with Rollins President Grant Cornwell, as well as Professor Julian Chambliss and N.Y. Nathiri. They discuss the mission of a liberal arts community as well as what it means to be a global citizen. In the 20th century, a liberal arts college such as Rollins strives to provide the most relevant education that is intimate, dynamic and engages students with problem-solving. This is all in the mission of Rollins, to create global citizens and responsible leaders. According to President Cornwell Rollins caters towards their mission statement not only in the classroom, but especially in residential living where students are “living and learning together with people right alongside that come from different backgrounds, different socioeconomic experiences, different races, different ethnicities”. When speaking with Chambliss and Nathiri they compare Hurston and her role as a global citizen with the festival and Eatonville. The core goals of the festival are to celebrate the historical residence of Eatonville, celebrate the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston, “to celebrate the cultural contributions which people of African descent have made to the United States and to world culture” (N.Y. Nathiri). Nathiri also mentions the large global culture you can see in the outdoor festival of the arts.
In the view of a Rollins student, being a global citizen is an important part of today’s culture and society. Our liberal arts education and is preparing us to interact with many different cultures and peoples. Although Rollins is a less diverse campus than many, we are striving towards an inclusive and safe space for all students as well as accepting a much more diverse student body. With the implementation of programs such as EMBARK, our campus is making an endeavor to become more inclusive for the African American community. I appreciate that Rollins is giving African descended students an opportunity to feel represented and appreciated with the Zora! Festival and discussion surrounding the contributions of African Americans to our country. I hope that as Rollins continues to grow that we can learn to be more accepting and appreappreciate the different communities and cultures we have on campus.