Blacker than Black: Contextualizing the Issue of White Supremacy in Heinrich Hoffmann's "The Story of the Inky Boys".

E. Wesseling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Heinrich Hoffmann's 'The Story of the Inky Boys' has been criticised repeatedly on account of its supposed racism. This article argues that when this story is read within the cultural, political and scientific contexts of Hoffmann's own time, with close attention to the word-picture dynamic, a different perspective on this tale emerges. It is suggested that Der Struwwelpeter [Shock-Headed Peter] can be read as a parody of Romantic idealisations of the child, including the developmentalist schemes of Romantic Naturphilosophie. Read in relation to such schemes, which repeatedly supported racist notions, 'The Stag of the Inky Boys' may be viewed, not as a racist story, but, rather, as a parody of the type of racism that lurked within Romantic idealism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-65
JournalInternational Research in Children’s Literature
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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