Dr. Lobodziec has produced an excellent work. It is interdisciplinary, quite complex, theoretical, accessibly written, and steeped in a deep grasp of a wide range of books and articles. An additional impressive characteristic of her writing is her profound grasp of the inner nuance and refined texture of black American and USA cultures. Such an accomplishment would be challenging even for a “native” scholar. Yet, it is striking how skillfully she succeeds, even though her primary social location is Poland. Moreover, her methodical and deep interrogation of the particularity of African American experiences (in black theology, womanist theology, black literary criticism, and Toni Morrison’s novels) has implications for a larger conversation for America and, indeed, for western culture. Finally, she could have simply stayed at the level of deconstruction. That is to say, she could have left us with her engaging and artful unpacking of the adverse social and personal structures within African American religion and literature. Such a book would have made a contribution. But, instead, she offers the reader an array of scholarly solutions to the problematics elaborated on throughout her text. Dr. Lobodziec’s goal is an inquiry into intra-racial conflicts in Toni Morrison’s fiction. To reach this aim, she yokes together the disciplines of black theology and black literary criticism. In her critical argument, these are natural analytic partners. Both carry out hermeneutical practices of black cultural expressions. Black theology interprets black religion; black literary criticism interprets black literature. Both investigate the black community and black folk culture. Both pursue the traces of liberation in African American life. And these common concerns of both disciplines are mirrored in Toni Morrison’s novels. A reader will find that this is a tight thesis substantiated by a convincing rationale. Dr. Lobodziec’s text is quite scientific. (1) She employs theoretical contributions from a host of disciplines. We discover insights from historians, sociologists, black theologians, psychologists/psychiatrists, religious studies authors, womanist theologians, literary critics, and, to a certain degree, political scientists. (2) The scientific value of her work is further enhanced by the objective and rational approach she takes in studying her subject matter. (3) This theoretical approach is deepened by her multi-sided look at her project. (4) Scientifically speaking, she weighs the pros and cons and competing oppositional perspectives on a topic. And (5) she takes the reader seriously by offering an abundance of evidence for her thesis. … In conclusion, by deploying black theology and Toni Morrison’s work, perhaps one of Dr. Lobodziec’s major accomplishments is that she broaches a discourse crossing cultures, communities, countries, and continents: How does one take seriously the self, the family, and the broader community?
[Review of Agnieszka Lobodziec’s Black Theological Intra-racial Conflicts in the Novels of Toni Morrison. By Dwight N. Hopkins, Professor of Theology, University of Chicago Divinity School.]