Who Is bell hooks?
bell hooks was a writer, professor, and literature critic whose work resonated with me. Her literature inspired me to write and encouraged me to read. She was born Gloria Jean Watkins to a working-class family in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She started her academic career at Stanford University and ended it with a Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She went on to publish books and scholarly articles that tackled masculinity, patriarchy, and feminist consciousness.
The Meaning Behind The Name bell hooks
bell hooks was the pen name for Gloria Jean Watkins. Her pen name was a tribute to her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. She preferred her pen name to be recorded with lowercase letters to separate her literature from her identity.
What I Learned From bell hooks Literature?
From her theories and style of writing, I learned how to express and conceptualize my experience as an African American female.
My Favorite bell hooks Theory
My favorite concept introduced by bell hooks is oppositional gaze. Oppositional gaze is a term that bell hooks coined in her 1992 essay collection, Black Looks: Race and Representation that refers to the visual relations between Black viewers (Black female spectators) and Hollywood cinema. She introduced the term in Chapter 7 entitled: The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators, where she opens the chapter with an explanation of the power one holds by looking or gazing at someone. She continues the chapter by explaining how Black people use gaze as an act of resistance.
I would define oppositional gaze as the way that Black people look (and thus perceive media) that disrupts the power dynamic created by Hollywood cinema. This understanding can be supported by the following expert from the chapter:
“Spaces of agency exist for black people, wherein we can both interrogate the ‘gaze’ of the other but also look back, and at one another, naming what we see. The gaze has been and is a site of resistance for colonized black people globally. Subordinates in relations of power learn experientially that there is a critical gaze, one that “looks” in order to document, one that is oppositional. In resistance struggle, the power of the dominated to assert agency by claiming and cultivating ‘awareness’ politicizes ‘looking’ relations—one learns to look a certain way in order to resist”(hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation, 116).
You can click here to read Chapter 7 The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators to get a full understanding of the oppositional gaze and the expert referenced above.
bell hooks Death
bell hooks’ death was announced on Wednesday, December 15, 2021, via Twitter by her niece, Ebony Motley. Later that day, Berea College, where hooks was a professor, announced that she died after an extended illness.