However, much of her work encountered criticism, as what endeavored to be ethnographic authenticity was construed as a perpetuation of black stereotypes made pliant for her white audiences. This combined with her controversial political affiliations in the 1940's led to a rejection of her work for some time. Rather than focus on a chronological review of her literary achievements, this paper will thematically consider portions of her corpus in terms of the various academic realms of analysis to which her work is now subject. Initially, some consideration will be given to the problematics of her presentation of "folk culture and folk language" and the degree those issues have traction in attempting to categorize the work of Hurston. Secondly, a de rigueur explication of how the issues of race and race relations were framed in her work will be given. Finally, the tropes of religion, religious imagery, and spirituality explicitly and implicitly play a significant role in her fiction and as such must be included in any literary analysis of her work. Though it is beyond the scope of this paper, one thematic element which operates consistently in her work is the role of women and her sensitivity to feminist concerns and issues of women's rights. Suffice it to say that many women in her novels and short stories play strong, consistent and even heroic roles and are often concern with other things than finding a husband or having children.
The political discourse of the mainstream of the Harlem Renaissance was centered on rebelling against the perceived stereotypes of African-Americans in the era of Jim Crow. "Negro Art," as suggested by W.E.B. DuBois and others, should seek to advance the situation of African-Americans (McKnight 83). Hurston's contrarian stance was not popular with other members of the Renaissance. Richard Wright accused her of nothing less than a kind of literary "Uncle Tomism" when he said that her work, "exploits that phase of Negro life which is 'quaint', the phase which evokes a piteous smile on the lips of the 'superior' race'" (McKnight 83) This attack stems at least in part from her literary commitment to a faithful portrayal of rural "black dialect" in her work. This so-called "folk language" is grammatically unorthodox, phonologically and semantically loose, elliptical, highly metaphorical, patriarchal, and utilizes a language which is steeped in mythological allusions and superstitious references. A brief illustration of this can be seen early on in Their Eyes Were Watching God. In one scene, Pheoby Watson is urged to go home before dark by Mrs. Sumpkins who volunteers to walk her home and worries, "It's sort of duskin' down dark. De booger man might ketch yuh." Unconcerned about the "Boogie Man" Phoeby declines and quips that "mah husband tell me say no first class booger would have me" (Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God 4). Many members of the Renaissance took exception to this nostalgia for primitivism and complained that while Hurston's effort in Their Eyes was both poetic and humorous, it was tragically and detrimentally un-evolved. Other reviewers were ignorant or blind to this concern of primitivism and instead recognized the universal experiences of Hurston's