Bell Hooks Essay

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Bell hooks is the pen name of Gloria Jean Watkins, who is recognized nationally and internationally as an African American intellectual, feminist, social activist, and educator. Her work focuses on how race, class, and gender play a role in social, economic, and political systems.

Hooks was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Prior to completing her doctorate at the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1983, she worked as an English professor and senior lecturer in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Southern California. During her three years there, she released her first published work, a collection of poems titled And There We Wept (1978), written under her pen name, bell hooks.

In 1981, she published her first major work Ain’t I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism, which discusses how issues of racism and sexism affect Black women, the education system, and the media. More specifically, the work addresses how these systems among others marginalize Black women and disregard issues of class, race, and gender within feminism.

Since Ain’t I a Woman, she has published more than thirty books, written scholarly and mainstream articles, and appeared in several documentary films. Some of hooks’s other works include Breaking Bread: Insurgent Black Intellectual Life (1991) (with Cornel West), Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (1994), and Witness (2006). In addition to her scholarly publications, hooks has written four children’s books. In 2004, she joined the faculty of Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, as a Distinguished Professor in Residence.


  1. Leitch, V. B. (Ed.). (2001). The Norton anthology of theory and criticism. New York: Norton.
  2. Stanley, S. K. (Ed.). (1998). Other sisterhoods: Literary theory and U.S. women of color. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

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