Building a Better Place: Utopianism and the Revision of Community in Toni Morrison’s Paradise


  • Verena Harz



This article examines the role of utopianism in Toni Morrison’s 1997 novel Paradise“. It argues that, by juxtaposing the all-black town of Ruby with a group of women living in a nearby convent, Morrison revises traditional views of what constitutes the best type of community. She criticizes the idea of utopian perfection predicated on purity and exclusion and envisions an alternative community characterized by ongoing negotiation. Rejecting all utopian master narratives, Morrison projects a better place at a more human scale.

Author Biography

Verena Harz

Verena Harz received her diploma in literary translation from the University of Düsseldorf in 2004. Her studies took her to the University of Lyon, France, and the University of California, Davis, USA. She is currently working on her doctoral thesis testing the heuristic value of theories of hybridity for African American novels which interrogate the color line through black-and-white biracial characters. Her academic interests include African American literature and culture, contemporary American fiction, minority studies, cultural studies, and postcolonial theory.


How to Cite

Harz, Verena. “Building a Better Place: Utopianism and the Revision of Community in Toni Morrison’s Paradise”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 12, May 2012, doi:10.5283/copas.135.