Topics for Further Study

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  • Research the history and practices of African-American folk medicine and hoodoo and write a paper comparing them to Western medicine, using Mama Day and Dr. Smithfield as examples.
  • Research your own family history, making a family tree like that at the beginning of Mama Day. Then write a paper about how your family's legacy continues to influence you and other family members.
  • Explore historical and fictional accounts that describe the relations between slave women and their masters in early America (like those between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings) and write first-person narratives of Sapphira and Bascombe Wade's experiences. You can make them talk to each other the way George and Cocoa do in Mama Day.
  • Compare Zora Neale Hurston's practices, methodology, and results in her Mules and Men (1935) to the efforts of the student, Reema's boy, who returns to Willow Springs at the beginning of Mama Day. You may also expand your research to include a historical survey of how anthropologists have approached and interpreted Southern black folk culture.

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