Pauline Hopkins and the American Dream
An African American Writer's (Re)Visionary Gospel of Success
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
Table of Contents
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This book was long in the making, and I want to express my gratitude to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for awarding me a Career Enhancement Fellowship, and to Washington College for providing me support through its faculty enhancement grants and Christian A. Johnson...
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In 1904, Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins wrote an article describing the technological advancements of the New York City subway system for The Voice of the Negro. Interestingly, at the end of the article, Hopkins cautioned readers not to rest on their laurels. Even though the rapid transit system was a significant...
1. "To Aid in Everyway Possible in Uplifting the Colored People of America": Hopkins's Revisionary Definition of African American Success
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During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the phrase “self-made man” invoked the image of an autonomous male who became wealthy and powerful through his ambition, hard work, and shrewd judgment. According to Richard Weiss, “Tradition has it that every American child...
2. Furnace Blasts for the Tuskegee Wizard and the Talented Tenth: Hopkins and Her Contemporary Self-Made Men
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Pauline Hopkins was the most prolific black woman writer of her time. Her work with the Colored American Magazine played no small part in earning her this distinction, for she published three serialized novels and several short stories and editorial pieces in the magazine. She abruptly stopped editing and contributing to the magazine...
3. "Mammon Leads Them On": Hopkins's Visionary Critique of the Gospel of Success
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There is a stark difference between the real men in Pauline Hopkins’s magazine articles and the male protagonists in her musical drama, short stories, and novels—between her nonfictional and fictional treatments of the success archetype. While her real-life self-made men are all successful, the majority...
4. "In the Lives of These Women are Seen Signs of Progress": Hopkins's Race Woman and the Gospel of Success
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In August 1899, a controversy erupted during the second biennial National Association of Colored Women (NACW) convention in Chicago when Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin challenged Mary Church Terrell’s election to a second term as NACW president. Ruffin and fellow delegates from the...
Conclusion: "Let the Good Work Go On"
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A number of other questions remain about Hopkins’s project, like how effective were her articles at motivating young blacks to seek moderate wealth and respectability through self-help and uplift? If given the opportunity, did they choose to model their lives after her success archetypes in the “Famous Men of the Negro...
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Page Count: 144
Illustrations: 4 halftones
Publication Year: 2012