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bell hooks
Bell hooks, October 2014.jpg
bell hooks in October 2014
Born
Gloria Jean Watkins

(1952-09-25)September 25, 1952
DiedDecember 15, 2021(2021-12-15) (aged 69)
Education
Occupation
  • Author
  • academic
  • activist
Years active1978–2018
Known forOppositional gaze
Notable work
Websiteweb.archive.org/web/20210108230404/http://www.bellhooksinstitute.com/

Gloria Jean Watkins (September 25, 1952 – December 15, 2021), better known by her pen name bell hooks,[1] was an American author and social activist who was Distinguished Professor in Residence at Berea College. She is best known for her writings on race, feminism, and class.[2][3] The focus of hooks's writing was to explore the intersectionality of race, capitalism, gender, and what she described as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She published around 40 books, including works that ranged from essays and poetry to children's books. She published numerous scholarly articles, appeared in documentary films, and participated in public lectures. Her work addressed love, race, class, gender, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism.[4]

Hooks began her academic career in 1976 teaching English and ethnic studies at the University of Southern California. She later taught at several institutions including Stanford University, Yale University, and The City College of New York, before joining Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, in 2004,[5] where she founded the bell hooks Institute in 2014.[6] Her pen name was borrowed from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.[7]

Early life[edit]

Gloria Jean Watkins was born on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville,[8] a small, segregated town in Kentucky,[9] to a working-class African-American family. Watkins was one of six children born to Rosa Bell Watkins (née Oldham) and Veodis Watkins.[4] Her father worked as a janitor and her mother worked as a maid in the homes of white families.[4] In her memoir Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood (1996), Watkins would write of her "struggle to create self and identity" while growing up in "a rich magical world of southern black culture that was sometimes paradisiacal and at other times terrifying."[10]

An avid reader (with poets William Wordsworth, Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Gwendolyn Brooks among her favorites),[11] Watkins was educated in racially segregated public schools, later moving to an integrated school in the late 1960s.[12] She graduated from Hopkinsville High School before obtaining her BA in English from Stanford University in 1973,[13] and her MA in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1976.[14] During this time, Watkins was writing her book Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism, which she began at the age of 19 (c. 1971)[15] and then published in 1981.[16]

In 1983, after several years of teaching and writing, she completed her doctorate in English at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a dissertation on author Toni Morrison entitled "Keeping a Hold on Life: Reading Toni Morrison's Fiction".[17][18]

Teaching and writing[edit]

She began her academic career in 1976 as an English professor and senior lecturer in ethnic studies at the University of Southern California.[19] During her three years there, Golemics, a Los Angeles publisher, released her first published work, a chapbook of poems titled And There We Wept (1978),[20] written under the name "bell hooks". She had adopted her maternal great-grandmother's name as her pen name because, as she later put it, her great-grandmother "was known for her snappy and bold tongue, which I greatly admired".[citation needed] She also said she put the name in lowercase letters both to honor her great-grandmother[21] and to convey that what is most important to focus upon is her works, not her personal qualities: the "substance of books, not who I am".[22] About the unconventional lowercasing of her pen name, hooks added that, "When the feminist movement was at its zenith in the late '60s and early '70s, there was a lot of moving away from the idea of the person. It was: Let's talk about the ideas behind the work, and the people matter less... It was kind of a gimmicky thing, but lots of feminist women were doing it."[23]

In the early 1980s and 1990s, hooks taught at several post-secondary institutions, including the University of California, Santa Cruz, San Francisco State University, Yale (1985 to 1988, as assistant professor of African and Afro-American studies and English),[24] Oberlin College (1988 to 1994, as associate professor of American literature and women's studies), and, beginning in 1994, as distinguished professor of English at City College of New York.[25][26]

South End Press published her first major work, Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism, in 1981, though she had written it years earlier while still an undergraduate.[12] In the decades since its publication, Ain't I a Woman? has been recognized for its contribution to feminist thought, with Publishers Weekly in 1992 naming it "One of the twenty most influential women's books in the last 20 years."[27] Writing in The New York Times in 2019, Min Jin Lee said that Ain't I a Woman "remains a radical and relevant work of political theory. hooks lays the groundwork of her feminist theory by giving historical evidence of the specific sexism that black female slaves endured and how that legacy affects black womanhood today."[24] Ain't I a Woman? examines themes including the historical impact of sexism and racism on black women, devaluation of black womanhood,[28] media roles and portrayal, the education system, the idea of a white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy and the marginalization of black women.[29]

bell hooks in 2009

At the same time, hooks became significant as a leftist and postmodern political thinker and cultural critic.[30] She published more than 30 books,[2] ranging in topics from black men, patriarchy, and masculinity to self-help; engaged pedagogy to personal memoirs; and sexuality (in regards to feminism and politics of aesthetics and visual culture). Reel to Real: race, sex, and class at the movies (1996) collects film essays, reviews, and interviews with film directors.[31] In The New Yorker, Hua Hsu said these interviews displayed the facet of hooks's work that was "curious, empathetic, searching for comrades".[4]

In Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (1984), hooks develops a critique of white feminist racism in second-wave feminism, which she argued undermined the possibility of feminist solidarity across racial lines.[32]

As hooks argued, communication and literacy (the ability to read, write, and think critically) are necessary for the feminist movement because without them people may not grow to recognize gender inequalities in society.[33]

In 2002, hooks gave a commencement speech at Southwestern University. Eschewing the congratulatory mode of traditional commencement speeches, she spoke against what she saw as government-sanctioned violence and oppression, and admonished students who she believed went along with such practices.[34][35] The Austin Chronicle reported that many in the audience booed the speech, though "several graduates passed over the provost to shake her hand or give her a hug."[34]

In 2004, she joined Berea College as Distinguished Professor in Residence.[36] Her 2008 book, belonging: a culture of place, includes an interview with author Wendell Berry as well as a discussion of her move back to Kentucky.[37] She was a scholar in residence at The New School on three occasions, the last time in 2014.[38] Also in 2014, the bell hooks Institute was founded at Berea College,[39] where she donated her papers in 2017.[40]

She was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame in 2018.[2][41]

Personal life[edit]

Regarding her sexual identity, hooks described herself as "queer-pas-gay".[42][43][44] She used the term "pas" from the French language, translating to "not" in the English language. hooks describes being queer in her own words as "not who you're having sex with, but about being at odds with everything around it".[45]  She states, "As the essence of queer, I think of Tim Dean's work on being queer and queer not as being about who you're having sex with – that can be a dimension of it – but queer as being about the self that is at odds with everything around it and it has to invent and create and find a place to speak and to thrive and to live."[46]

During an interview with Abigail Bereola in 2017, hooks revealed to Bereola that she was single while they discussed her love life. During the interview, hooks told Bereola, "I don't have a partner. I've been celibate for 17 years. I would love to have a partner, but I don't think my life is less meaningful."[47]

Death[edit]

On December 15, 2021, hooks died from kidney failure at her home in Berea, Kentucky, aged 69.[2][8]

Filmography[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Select bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

Children's books[edit]

Book chapters[edit]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b This may be a working title. See talk page.

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Dinitia Smith (September 28, 2006). "Tough arbiter on the web has guidance for writers". The New York Times. p. E3. Archived from the original on July 3, 2018. Retrieved February 21, 2017. But the Chicago Manual says it is not all right to capitalize the name of the writer bell hooks because she insists that it be lower case.
  2. ^ a b c d Knight, Lucy (December 15, 2021). "bell hooks, author and activist, dies aged 69". The Guardian. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  3. ^ The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. "bell hooks | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved March 31, 2022. {{cite web}}: |author1= has generic name (help)
  4. ^ a b c d Hsu, Hua (December 15, 2021). "The Revolutionary Writing of bell hooks". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on December 16, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  5. ^ "Get to Know bell hooks". The bell hooks center. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  6. ^ "About the bell hooks institute". bell hooks institute. Archived from the original on January 8, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2021., via archive.org
  7. ^ hooks, bell, "Inspired Eccentricity: Sarah and Gus Oldham" in Sharon Sloan Fiffer and Steve Fiffer (eds), Family: American Writers Remember Their Own, New York: Vintage Books, 1996, p. 152.

    hooks, bell, Talking Back, Routledge, 2014 [1989], p. 161.

  8. ^ a b Risen, Clay (December 15, 2021). "bell hooks, Pathbreaking Black Feminist, Dies at 69". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  9. ^ Medea, Andra (1997). "hooks, bell (1952–)". In Hine, Darlene Clark (ed.). Facts on File Encyclopedia of Black Women in America. New York: Facts on File. pp. 100–101. ISBN 0-8160-3425-7. OCLC 35209436.
  10. ^ "Bone Black". Kirkus Reviews. August 15, 1996. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  11. ^ Busby, Margaret (December 17, 2021). "bell hooks obituary | Trailblazing writer, activist and cultural theorist who made a pivotal contribution to Black feminist thought". The Guardian.
  12. ^ a b Le Blanc, Ondine E. (1997). "bell hooks 1952–". In Bigelow, Barbara Carlisle (ed.). Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 5. Gale. pp. 125–129. ISBN 978-1-4144-3543-5. ISSN 1058-1316. OCLC 527366247.
  13. ^ a b Kumar, Lisa, ed. (2007). "hooks, bell 1952–". Something about the Author. Vol. 170. Gale. pp. 112–116. ISBN 978-1-4144-1071-5. ISSN 0276-816X. OCLC 507358041.
  14. ^ Scanlon, Jennifer (1999). Significant Contemporary American Feminists: A Biographical Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. pp. 125–132. ISBN 978-0313301254.
  15. ^ "Remembering bell hooks (1952-2021)". December 2021.
  16. ^ "bell hooks | Biography, Books, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on August 23, 2020. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  17. ^ hooks, bell (1983). Keeping a hold on life: reading Toni Morrison's fiction (Thesis). OCLC 9514473. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021. WorldCat.
  18. ^ hooks, bell (1983). Keeping a Hold on Life: Reading Toni Morrison's Fiction. University of California, Santa Cruz.
  19. ^ Hampton, Bonita (2007). "hooks, bell (1952–)". In Anderson, Gary L.; Herr, Kathryn G. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice. Vol. 2. SAGE Publishing. pp. 704–706. doi:10.4135/9781412956215.n418. ISBN 978-1-4129-1812-1.
  20. ^ Glikin, Ronda (1989). Black American Women in Literature: A Bibliography, 1976 through 1987. McFarland & Company. p. 73. ISBN 0-89950-372-1. OCLC 18986103.
  21. ^ McGrady, Clyde (December 15, 2021). "Why bell hooks didn't capitalize her name". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 21, 2021. Early on, hooks, born Gloria Jean Watkins, wanted a way to honor her maternal great-grandmother while detaching herself from her work. She wrote dozens of books using her great-grandmother's name but didn't capitalize it.
  22. ^ Williams, Heather (March 26, 2013). "bell hooks Speaks Up". The Sandspur. p. 1. Archived from the original on February 28, 2021. Retrieved November 10, 2019 – via Issuu.
  23. ^ Lowens, Randy (February 14, 2018). "How Do You Practice Intersectionalism? An Interview with bell hooks". Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2021.
  24. ^ a b Lee, Min Jin (February 28, 2019). "In Praise of bell hooks". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  25. ^ Leatherman, Courtney (May 19, 1995). "The Real bell hooks". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on December 16, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  26. ^ "bell hooks." Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2010. Literature Resource Center. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  27. ^ Smith, Gerald L.; McDaniel, Karen Cotton; Hardin, John A. (August 28, 2015). The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-8131-6067-2. Archived from the original on December 16, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  28. ^ Guy-Sheftall, Beverly; Ikerionwu, Maria K. Mootry; hooks, bell (1983). "Black Women and Feminism: Two Reviews". Phylon. 44 (1): 84. doi:10.2307/274371. JSTOR 274371.
  29. ^ Wake, Paul; Malpas, Simon, eds. (June 19, 2013). The Routledge Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory (PDF). Routledge. pp. 241–242. doi:10.4324/9780203520796. ISBN 978-1-134-12327-8. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 14, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  30. ^ "bell hooks". Utne. January 1, 1995. Archived from the original on December 16, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  31. ^ Winchester, James (1999). "Reel to Real: Race, Sex, and Class at the Movies". The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism. 57 (3): 388. doi:10.2307/432214. JSTOR 432214.
  32. ^ Isoke, Zenzele (December 2019). "bell hooks: 35 Years from Margin to Center – Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. By bell hooks. New York: Routledge, [1984] 2015. 180 pp. 23.96 (paperback)". Politics & Gender. 15 (4). doi:10.1017/S1743923X19000643. ISSN 1743-923X. S2CID 216525770. Archived from the original on April 16, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  33. ^ Olson, Gary A. (1994). "bell hooks and the Politics of Literacy: A Conversation". Journal of Advanced Composition. 14 (1): 1–19. ISSN 0731-6755. JSTOR 20865945.
  34. ^ a b Apple, Lauri (May 24, 2002). "bell hooks Digs In". The Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on December 22, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  35. ^ "Postmarks – Southwestern Graduation Debacle". The Austin Chronicle. May 24, 2002. Archived from the original on October 15, 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  36. ^ "Faculty and Staff". Berea College. Archived from the original on May 28, 2010. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  37. ^ hooks, bell (January 1, 2009). Belonging: a culture of place. ISBN 9780415968157. OCLC 228676700.
  38. ^ "bell hooks returns for Third Residency at The New School". The New School. September 18, 2014. Archived from the original on November 7, 2016. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  39. ^ The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica; Adam Augustyn (December 15, 2021). "bell hooks | American scholar". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved December 18, 2021. {{cite web}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  40. ^ Burke, Minyvonne; Michelle Garcia (December 15, 2021). "Acclaimed author and activist bell hooks dies at 69". NBC News. Retrieved December 25, 2021.
  41. ^ Potter, Leslie (January 31, 2018). "Four Kentucky authors were inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame". Kentucky Education Television.
  42. ^ Ring, Trudy (December 15, 2021). "Queer Black Feminist Writer bell hooks Dies at 69". The Advocate. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  43. ^ Goodman, Elyssa (March 12, 2019). "How bell hooks Paved the Way for Intersectional Feminism". them. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  44. ^ Peake, Amber (December 16, 2021). "'Queer-pas-gay' identity meaning explored as bell hooks dies aged 69". The Focus. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  45. ^ "bell hooks - Are You Still a Slave? Liberating the Black Female Body | Eugene Lang College". The New School. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  46. ^ Peake, Amber (December 16, 2021). "'Queer-pas-gay' identity meaning explored as bell hooks dies aged 69". TheFocus. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  47. ^ Bereola, Abigail (December 13, 2017). "Tough Love With bell hooks". Shondaland. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
  48. ^ Guthmann, Edward (May 5, 1995). "Riggs' Eloquent Last Plea for Tolerance". SFGATE. Hearst. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  49. ^ McCluskey 2007, pp. 301–302.
  50. ^ "FeMiNAtions: Despite the pleas and its promotional tone, My Feminism makes a valid point". The Globe and Mail. May 23, 1998. p. 18. ProQuest 1143520117.
  51. ^ "Voices of Power: African-American Women. Series Title: I Am Woman". The Pennsylvania State University. Archived from the original on December 16, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  52. ^ McCluskey 2007, p. 57.
  53. ^ McCluskey 2007, p. 355.
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  63. ^ "Footlights". The New York Times. August 21, 2002. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on March 5, 2020. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  64. ^ a b Rappaport, Scott (April 25, 2007). "May 10 bell hooks event postponed". UC Santa Cruz, Regents of the University of California. Archived from the original on August 18, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  65. ^ "Get to Know bell hooks". The bell hooks center. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  66. ^ hampton, dream (March 5, 2020). "bell hooks: 100 Women of the Year". Time. Archived from the original on December 15, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  67. ^ a b "bell hooks". Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved November 30, 2015.

Cited sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]