Utopian Aesthetics of Three African American Women (toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Julie Dash): the Principle of Hope

Author: Raphael-Hernandez, Heike
This study argues that German Jewish philosopher Ernst Bloch’s utopian theory of hope is exemplified in the works of contemporary African American writers.


“Far from forcing an extraneous, “foreign” point of view onto the American scene, Raphael-Hernandez’s book offers an example of transatlantic criticism at its best. Coming as they do from a philosophy steeped in Hegel and Marx, Bloch’s criteria - perhaps because of their apparent distance from things American - provide a set of critical tools that serve these writers in ways that are often unexpected and invariably rewarding.” - Prof. Dieter Schulz, University of Heidelberg

“The book argues that contemporary African American women artists, including Toni Morrison, Alice Walker and Julie Dash, exemplify Ernst Bloch’s notion of community aspiration, solidarity and the triumph of a form of intellectual and political idealism. The argument is interesting and unique and original. The book forges new ground for the study of these African American writers.” – Prof. Bill Mullen, Purdue University

“. . . putting these two areas of cultural productions at a productive crossroads opens a way of thinking about communalities of vision in human communities that we too often discuss in limiting ways because they are neatly packed up in mind boxes that are separated according to race – class – gender indexes. Raphael Hernandez achieves a reading of African American women writers’ work through the Blochian lens which makes them visible as Philosophy of Liberation, as major contributions not only to 20th century literature, but to a philosophy of the 21st century.” - Prof. Sabine Broeck, University of Bremen

Table of Contents

Dreaming for Empowerment
1. The Construction of a Concrete Utopian Aesthetic: Concrete Utopian Thoughts in Ernst Bloch’s The Principle of Hope
2. A Farewell to a Ghost: Toni Morrison’s Beloved
3. The Creation of a Messiah: Gloria Naylor’s Bailey’s Café
4. A Revival of Ancestral Hope: Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust
5. Healing Communities: Ernst Bloch and Contemporary African American Women Writers