hooks, bell

hooks, bell, 1952–2021, American author, poet, social critic, and Black feminist, b. Hopkinsville, Ky., as Gloria Jean Watkins, Stanford Univ. (B.A., 1974), Univ. of Wisconsin (M.A., 1976), Univ. of California, Santa Cruz (Ph.D., 1983). Raised in the segregated south, the daughter of a poor black family, hooks began writing her first book, Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism (1981), while still in college, laying the basis for the new Black feminist movement. She would go on to write a wide variety of works, from poetry to literary criticism, self-help and children's books, works critiquing American society and its education system, and philosophical explorations of the meaning of friendship and love. Her work transcended the academic community, winning her a large audience of general readers. She taught at a number of colleges, including the Univ. of Southern California (1976-79), Yale Univ. (1985-88), Oberlin College (1988-94), and City College of New York (1994-2004), eventually taking a position at Berea College (2004-21), which established the bell hooks Institute in her honor (2014). She took her pen name from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks, writing it in lower case, she said, to focus attention on her work, not her individual self. She was indicted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame (2018).

See her memoir, Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood (1996); critical works, Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center (1984), Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (1989); Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (1990), Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (1994); All About Love: New Visions (2000); We Be Cool: Black Men and Masculinity (2004), Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice (2013).

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