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Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership$
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Erica R. Edwards

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780816675456

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816675456.001.0001

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Moses, Monster of the Mountain

Moses, Monster of the Mountain

Gendered Violence in Zora Neale Hurston’s Gothic

(p.77) Chapter 3 Moses, Monster of the Mountain
Charisma and the Fictions of Black Leadership

Erica R. Edwards

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter discusses Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Moses, Man of the Mountain as an example of African American narrative fiction which uses an arching of contestation that restages the charismatic scenario. Literary restagings of the charismatic scenario place the ideals of black leadership forged over the course of the twentieth century in dialogic tension with gender critique, historical revision, and a radical reconceptualization of black politics. The novel shows how a woman’s erotic power confronts the masculinist strictures of charismatic authority by repeatedly interrupting the charismatic relationship between leader and people—even at the risk of violent reprisal. The chapter argues that the Hurston rewrites the biblical Exodus story, which Hurston defines as a generative myth of the mystical foundations of political authority in the African diasporic world. For Hurston, Moses provides the paradigmatic instance of charisma, an authority legitimated by receiving treatment of having exceptional powers or qualities.

Keywords:   Zora Neale Hurston, Moses, Man of the Mountain, African American, narrative fiction, charismatic scenario, black leadership, black politics, charisma

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