bell hooks - Biography
bell hooks, is an American social activist, feminist and author. She was born on September 25, 1952. bell hooks is the nom de plume for Gloria Jean Watkins. bell hooks examines the multiple networks that connect gender, race, and class. She examines systematic oppression with the goal of a liberatory politics. She also writes on the topics of mass media, art, and history. bell hooks is a prolific writer, having composed a plethora of articles for mainstream and scholarly publications. Her methodology has been considered to be post-modern and or post-colonial. bell hooks has written and published dozens of books. At Yale University, bell hooks was a Professor of African and African-American Studies and English. At Oberlin College, she was an Associate Professor of Women‚’s Studies and American Literature. At the City College of New York, bell hooks also held the position of Distinguished Lecturer of English Literature. bell hooks has been awarded The American Book Awards/Before Columbus Foundation Award, The Writer’s Award from Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, and The Bank Street College Children’s Book of the Year. She has also been ranked as one of the most influential American thinkers by Publisher’s Weekly and The Atlantic monthly.
The works of bell hooks were influenced by the writings of the American abolitionist Sojourner Truth, the Brazilian teacher Paulo Freire, the Peruvian theologian Gustavo Guitierrez, the German-American psychologist Erich Fromm, the American playwright Lorraine Hansberry, the Vietnamese monk Thicht Nhat Hanh, the American writer James Baldwin, the American civil rights radical Malcolm X and the American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. She draws from this multitude of inspiration to create her unique brand of work that blends emancipatory politics with post modern theory and cultural inspirations as well.
On September 25, 1952, bell hooks was born Gloria Jean Watkins. She was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Veodis Watkins, her father, was a custodian, and Rosa Bell Watkins was a stay-at-home mother. The Watkins raised six daughters and one son. During her youth, bell hooks was an insatiable reader. The neighborhood in which Hooks grew up was prone to power outages. During these interruptions of service, the children would gather around candlelight and perform. bell hooks would often offer a reading during these shows. She would recite the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and William Wordsworth. bell hooks wrote poetry as a child and some of her poems were published in a Sunday school magazine.
In Sisters of the Yam, bell hooks addresses the sexism of the racially segregated community in which she grew up. However, bell hooks offers praise for the spiritual authority that some women were able to obtain. This was one of the ways in which bell hooks tried to celebrate the female historical legacy. Later in her own life, bell hooks would continue to investigate and embrace her spirituality, namely Buddhism, which has large influence on her writings and methodologies.
bell hooks was educated in racially segregated public institutions. She suffered shock and confrontation when she transitioned to an integrated school. In these integrated institutions, the overwhelmingly white teaching staff and student body required bell hooks undergo a conceptual shift. She attended Hopkinsville High School before graduating and enrolling in Stanford University. In 1973, Stanford University awarded her with a B.A. in English. She would continue her studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This university awarded her an M.A. in English in 1976. After her graduation, bell hooks received a professorship and senior lectureship in Ethnic Studies at the University of Southern California. bell hooks also taught at the University of California-Santa Cruz, San Francisco University during this period.
In 1978, bell hooks released a chapbook entitled And There We Wept. bell hooks had worked on this work for many years. This collection of poems was the first instance where Gloria Jean Watkins adopted the nom de plume bell hooks. This name was in honor of her grandmother. bell hooks’s grandmother had been known for her wit and pithiness. The lack of capitalization serves two functions. The first function is distinguish bell hooks from her grandmother Bell Hooks. The second function is to indicate the importance of the text and not the biography of the author.
In 1981, bell hooks released the book Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism. Many view this as bell hooks first major work, and her first entrée into her later influence. Many view this work as the one of the key works of feminist thought in the postmodern milieu. This text interrogates the impact of sexist and racist social structures on the history of black women, which has led to the debasement of black women and their social standing. She also identifies a network of capitalism, patriarchy, and white-supremacist ideologies that support themselves. Perhaps most importantly, bell hooks examined the apathetic relationship that many white feminists had when examining questions of race.
In a truly postmodern fashion, bell hooks oscillates between different media, different writing tones, and different rhetorical forms in order to get to the heart of her concerns. Her concern for accessibility has led to bell hooks to giving lectures in open venues, participating in documentaries, and writing for mainstream magazines.
The books that bell hooks has written critically engage in pedagogy, sexuality, patriarchy, black masculinity and masculinity in generally. bell hooks argues that loving communities are the key to move beyond racism, classism, and sexism.
In 1983, the University of California-Santa Cruz awarded bell hooks a PhD after the completion of a dissertation on author Toni Morrison.
In her 1992 publication Black Looks: Race and Representation, bell hooks examines the role of black men who shrugged the mantle of patriarch. Although bell hooks held a deep admiration for her father, she was intrigued by men like Felix who was a hobo and who never held a steady job.
Berea College in Kentucky hired bell hooks as Distinguished Professor in 2004. During her time at Berea College, bell hooks engaged in feminist discussion groups. bell hooks has recently penned the belonging: a culture of place. In this work, bell hooks examines her experiences in moving back to Kentucky.
As an educator, bell hooks turned her critical attention into addressing the power structures inherent in the classroom structure. In order to examine these roles, bell hooks wrote Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. In this work, she argues that although the classroom dynamic can be used to create automatons who are merely subservient to the oppression of the system classrooms can also be used in transgressive ways to create a more enfranchised and engaged body of students and teachers.
Not surprisingly, bell hooks‚’s radical views on race, gender, and education have made her the center of many controversies. In 2002, bell hooks gave a speech at Southwestern University. She announced to the graduating class that those who were complacent tacitly supported the oppression and violence sponsored by the government. Many graduates shouted bell hooks down although some went to shake her hand and embrace her. Conservative writers have made bell hooks a target of their reactionary backlash. Peter Schweizer attacks bell hooks, claiming she is a hypocrite when discussing sexuality and gender politics. David Horowitz over inflates a passage in which bell hooks expresses the rage for racial oppression by hyperbolically claiming she fantasizes about murdering “an anonymous white male.” The criticism that bell hooks faces can be additionally understood as a back lash against a thinking that confronts the standard hierarchy of power.