Gloria Jean Watkins (September 25, 1952 – December 15, 2021), better known by her pen name bell hooks, was an American author, professor, feminist, and social activist. The name “bell hooks” is borrowed from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.The focus of hooks’ writing was the intersectionality of race, capitalism, and gender, and what she described as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. She published more than 30 books and numerous scholarly articles, appeared in documentary films, and participated in public lectures. Her work addressed race, class, gender, art, history, sexuality, mass media, and feminism. In 2014, she founded the bell hooks Institute at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.
Hooks also became significant as a leftist and postmodern political thinker and cultural critic. She published more than 30 books, 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. In The New Yorker, Hua Hsu said these interviews displayed the facet of hooks’s work that was “curious, empathetic, searching for comrades”.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.Hooks argued that 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.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. 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”.In 2004, she joined Berea College as Distinguished Professor in Residence. 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. She was a scholar in residence at The New School on three occasions.She was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame in 2018.
She described her sexual identity as “queer-pas-gay”.On December 15, 2021, hooks died from kidney failure at her home in Berea, Kentucky, aged 69.
Filmography Black Is… Black Ain’t (1994) Give a Damn Again (1995) Cultural Criticism and Transformation (1997) My Feminism (1997) Voices of Power (1999) BaadAsssss Cinema (2002) I Am a Man: Black Masculinity in America (2004) Happy to Be Nappy and Other Stories of Me (2004) Is Feminism Dead? (2004) Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action (2008) Occupy Love (2012) Hillbilly (2018)
Awards and nominations Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics: The American Book Awards/ Before Columbus Foundation Award (1991) bell hooks: The Writer’s Award from the Lila Wallace–Reader’s Digest Fund (1994) Happy to Be Nappy: NAACP Image Award nominee (2001) Homemade Love: The Bank Street College Children’s Book of the Year (2002) Salvation: Black People and Love: Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominee (2002) bell hooks: Utne Reader’s “100 Visionaries Who Could Change Your Life” bell hooks: The Atlantic Monthly’s “One of our nation’s leading public intellectuals” bell hooks: TIME 100 Women of the Year, 2020
Books And there we wept: poems. Los Angeles: Golemics. 1978. OCLC 6230231. Ain’t I a Woman?: Black women and feminism. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. 1981. ISBN 978-0-89608-129-1. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. South End Press. 1984. ISBN 978-0-89608-613-5. Talking Back: Thinking feminist, thinking Black. Between the Lines. 1989. ISBN 978-0-921284-09-3. Excerpted in Busby, Margaret, ed. (1992). Daughters of Africa. New York: Pantheon Books. Yearning: race, gender, and cultural politics. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. 1990. ISBN 978-1-1-38821-75-0. With Cornel West, Breaking bread: insurgent Black intellectual life. Boston, Massachusetts: South End Press. 1991. ISBN 978-0-89608-414-8. Hooks, Bell (1992). Black Looks: Race and representation. ISBN 978-0-89608-434-6.
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