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Transcript of bell hooks
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feminist theorist, cultural critic and self-described artist
Born: Gloria Jean Watkins on September 25, 1952
Raised: Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a small, segregated town in rural Kentucky.
She recalls her neighborhood as a "world where folks were content to get by on a little, where Baba, mama's mother, made soap, dug fishing worms, set traps for rabbits, made butter and wine, sewed quilts, and wrung the necks of chickens."
Family: five sisters and a baby brother. Her father worked as a janitor, and her mother, Rosa Bell Oldham Watkins, worked as a maid in the homes of white families.
hooks has been praised for her insight and boldness. Her arguments tend to be strong and challenging, particularly when she recollects her version of feminist history.
She reaches a wide audience because her voice uses limited jargon, combining standard English with street vernacular,disrupting the current practice of academia to the point that many scholars actually question her level of respect for the institution.Supporters of bell-hooks, however, maintain that her personal narrative greatly enhances her work.
Critics often disapprove of her lack of footnotes.
In addition, many are uncomfortable with her reliance on self-help rhetoric and pop psychology.
Overall, hooks has been slammed for the production of repetitious writing. She has responded by calling out issues around censorship.
"Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representation"
bell-hooks focuses on the cinematic, artistic and musical representations of race. She contends that mass media reinforces self-hatred amongst minority groups and encourages their cultural domination.
From a more feminist perspective:
From a more feminist perspective, hooks chooses to investigate Madonna. hooks questions Madonna's use of sexuality as a plausible means for the revolutionary liberation of women.
Her early schooling she describes as "sheer joy". The all-black school she went to as a young girl she writes of as being "a place of ecstasy – pleasure and danger". She loved being a student; She loved learning decided from very early on that she wanted to become a teacher and a writer.
hooks went on to gain a scholarship to Stanford University where, in 1973 she obtained her BA. From there she went to the University of Wisconsin where she was awarded an MA in 1976 and then her PhD from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1983. bell hooks then became a teacher and a writer.
Her use of a pseudonym arose from a desire to honor her grandmother (whose name she took) and her mother, and a concern to establish a ‘separate voice’ from the person Gloria Watson.
When school integration was introduced in the 1960s, bell hooks transferred to an integrated school that was the complete opposite of her first school. She writes that the knowledge they were supposed to soak up bore no relation to how they lived or behaved. "Bussed to white schools", bell hooks recalls, "we soon learned that obedience, and not zealous will to learn, was what was expected of us". Too much eagerness to learn she regarded as something that could easily be seen as a threat to white authority.
First Major Work
Her first major book (1981) "Ain’t I a woman : Black Women and Feminism" established her as a formidable critic and intellectual and set out some of the central themes around culture, gender, race and class that have characterized her work. In this book bell hooks draws attention to the extent to which "the dominant white patriarchy and black male patriarchy conveyed to black women the message that to cast a vote in favor of social equality of the sexes i.e. women’s liberation, was to cast a vote against black liberation."
hooks on Education
bell hooks’ first major book on education, Teaching to Transgress, was published in 1994. It is a collection of essays exploring her ideas. She argued for a progressive, holistic education – engaged pedagogy: "To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin."
Writer, professor, and social critic, bell hooks is undeniably one of the most successful "cross-over" academics of the late twentieth century. Her books look at the function of race and gender in today's culture.
Hooks lives in New York City and remains an important figure in the fight against racism and sexism in America. hooks has more than twenty books to her name with more to come.