Given Hurston's and Wright's popularity, how do they serve as gateways to other Black Southern writers?
Your question can lead to a micro-sermon and hard critical questions: for whom do Hurston and Wright serve as gateways or windows? And do we walk through the gate or look through the window with conscious or unconscious gender adn geographical biases?
It is likely that interest in Wright and Hurston may lead to interest in Sterling D. Plumpp and Angela Jackson. But a probability is not a certainty. Wright's works may lead one to be very much interested in the works of John Edgar Wideman and Gwendolyn Brooks. The Hurston canon may direct someone to study the works of Edwidge Danticat and Colson Whitehead. Plumpp and Jackson have legitimate claims on being Black South writers; Wideman, Brooks, Whitehead, and Danticat do not. Thus, I wish to complicate your thinking about gateways and the roads taken. Individual readers/critics make choices that are not always theory-friendly. The more individual choices frustrate theoretical expectations, the better.
APPLICATION OF THE SERMON
I say unto you and other members of the congregation, observe with care which paths male and female thinkers walk after they have passed through the gateway. It may be easier to nap in a mustard seed than to hibernate in a field of corn.
Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
June 27, 2014