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Bell Hooks

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Gender Female
Age 70
Date of birth September 25,1952
Zodiac sign Libra
Born Hopkinsville
United States
Full nameGloria Jean Watkins
Influenced by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Malcolm X
Toni Morrison
Job Author
Social activist
Movies/Shows Black is. . . Black Ain't
Happy to Be Nappy and Other Stories of Me
Fierce Light
Baadasssss Cinema
Occupy Love
United States
Influences Toni Morrison
Paulo Freire
Sojourner Truth
SiblingsAngela Watkins
Kenneth Watkins
Gwenda Watkins
Valeria Watkins
Theresa Watkins
Sarah Watkins
ParentsVeodis Watkins
Rosa Bell Watkins
Education Stanford University
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Influence Paulo Freire
Toni Morrison
James Baldwin
Erich Fromm
Gustavo Gutiérrez
Awards American Book Award

All About Love: New Visions1279105
Ain't I a Woman?1037001
Feminism Is for Everybody2188446
Teaching to transgress1106184
The will to change2188444
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center1283443
We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity2112774
Black looks2305389
Bone Black2192766
Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope2342813
Communion: The Female Search for Love2192757
Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black2574976
Outlaw Culture2341786
Killing Rage: Ending Racism2192837
Wounds of Passion: A Writing Life2192754
Where We Stand: Class Matters
Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom
Sisters Of The Yam2192780
Art on my mind2916396
Happy to be Nappy1469200
Salvation: Black People and Love2192820
Reel to Real: Race, Sex and Class at the Movies2100616
Remembered rapture2192749
Skin Again2066757
Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life2188450
Homemade Love1471292
Be Boy Buzz2066727
Belonging: A Culture of Place
Writing Beyond Race: Living Theory and Practice
Grump Groan Growl2066731
Rock My Soul: Black People and Self-Esteem
When Angels Speak of Love
Appalachian Elegy: Poetry and Place
A Woman's Mourning Song
Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism
Uncut Funk: A Contemplative Dialogue
Soul Sister: Women, Friendship, and Fulfillment
Todo Sobre El Amor
Be Love, Baby Love
Marcia Lippman Sacred Encounters
Frisettes en fête
Hooks: Reel to Real
All About Love: New Visions1279105
The will to change2188444
Teaching to transgress1106184
Feminism Is for Everybody2188446
All About Love: New Visions
The will to change
Ain't I a Woman?
Teaching to transgress
All About Love: New Visions
The will to change
Teaching to transgress
Communion: The Female Search for Love
Date of Reg.
Date of Upd.
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Bell Hooks Life story

Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name bell hooks, 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.

Gloria Jean Watkins (September 25, 1952 – December 15, 2021), better known by her pen name bell hooks, 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. 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.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, where she founded the bell hooks Institute in 2014. Her pen name was borrowed from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks.

Early life

Gloria Jean Watkins was born on September 25, 1952, in Hopkinsville, a small, segregated town in Kentucky, to a working-class African-American family. Watkins was one of six children born to Rosa Bell Watkins (née Oldham) and Veodis Watkins. Her father worked as a janitor and her mother worked as a maid in the homes of white families. 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."An avid reader (with poets William Wordsworth, Langston Hughes, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Gwendolyn Brooks among her favorites), Watkins was educated in racially segregated public schools, later moving to an integrated school in the late 1960s. She graduated from Hopkinsville High School before obtaining her BA in English from Stanford University in 1973, and her MA in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1976. 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) and then published in 1981.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".

Teaching and writing

She began her academic career in 1976 as an English professor and senior lecturer in ethnic studies at the University of Southern California. 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), 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". She also said she put the name in lowercase letters both to honor her great-grandmother 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". 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."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), 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.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. 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." 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." Ain't I a Woman? examines themes including the historical impact of sexism and racism on black women, devaluation of black womanhood, media roles and portrayal, the education system, the idea of a white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy and the marginalization of black women.

At the same time, hooks 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.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.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, the last time in 2014. Also in 2014, the bell hooks Institute was founded at Berea College, where she donated her papers in 2017.She was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame in 2018.

Personal life

Regarding her sexual identity, hooks described herself as "queer-pas-gay". She uses 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". 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."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."


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


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

Select bibliography


Children's books

Happy to be Nappy. Chris Raschka (illustrator). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. 1999. ISBN 978-0-7868-2377-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)

Homemade Love. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. 2002. ISBN 978-0786825530.

Be boy buzz. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. 2002. ISBN 978-0786816439.

Skin again. Chris Raschka (illustrator). New York: Hyperion Books for Children. 2004. ISBN 9780786808250.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)

Grump groan growl. Chris Raschka (illustrator). New York: Hyperion Books for Children. 2008. ISBN 978-0786808168.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)

Book chapters

hooks, bell (1993), "Black women and feminism", in Richardson, Laurel; Taylor, Verta A. (eds.), Feminist frontiers III, New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 444–449, ISBN 978-0075570011.

hooks, bell (1996), "Continued devaluation of Black womanhood", in Jackson, Stevi; Scott, Sue (eds.), Feminism and sexuality: a reader, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 216–223, ISBN 978-0231107082.

hooks, bell (1997), "Sisterhood: political solidarity between women", in McClintock, Anne; Mufti, Aamir; Shohat, Ella (eds.), Dangerous liaisons: gender, nation, and postcolonial perspectives, Minnesota, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 396–414, ISBN 978-0816626496.

hooks, bell (2004), "Selling hot pussy: representations of Black female sexuality in the cultural marketplace", in Richardson, Laurel; Taylor, Verta A.; Whittier, Nancy (eds.), Feminist frontiers (5th ed.), Boston: McGraw-Hill, pp. 119–127, ISBN 978-0072824230. Pdf.

hooks, bell (2005), "Black women: shaping feminist theory", in Cudd, Ann E.; Andreasen, Robin O. (eds.), Feminist theory: a philosophical anthology, Oxford, UK; Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 60–68, ISBN 978-1405116619.

Explanatory notes



Cited sources

Further reading

External links

bell hooks articles published in Lion's Roar magazine.

South End Press (books by hooks published by South End Press)

University of California, Santa Barbara (biographical sketch of hooks)

"Postmodern Blackness" (article by hooks)

Whole Terrain (articles by hooks published in Whole Terrain)

Challenging Capitalism & Patriarchy (interviews with hooks by Third World Viewpoint)

Ingredients of Love (an interview with Ascent magazine)

bell hooks at IMDb

Appearances on C-SPAN

In Depth interview with hooks, May 5, 2002

Interview in BOMB magazine

"bell hooks remembered: 'She embodied everything I wanted to be'", The Guardian, December 16, 2021.

"For bell hooks", Media Diversified, December 16, 2021.

"Remembering bell hooks & Her Critique of 'Imperialist White Supremacist Heteropatriarchy'". Democracy Now!

"bell hooks - Are You Still a Slave? Liberating the Black Female Body | Eugene Lang College", The New School (via YouTube), May 6, 2014.


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