40 pages 1 hour read

bell hooks

Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1984

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Authorial Context: bell hooks

Born Gloria Jean Watkins in segregated Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952, bell hooks was a feminist scholar known for her work on the intersectionality of race, class, and gender under what she termed white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. hooks attended segregated public schools before moving to an integrated school, and she earned a Bachelor’s in English from Stanford University and a Master’s in English from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. When she began writing feminist texts such as her first full-length book, Ain’t I a Woman?: Black Women and Feminism, she took the penname “bell hooks” as an homage to her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. The decision to lowercase her name reflected the prevalent, feminist trend at the time to center the work over the author. hooks believed that by keeping her name lowercase, she signaled to her readers that her personal identity had no place in understanding the content of her work.

As bell hooks experienced both segregated public schooling and integrated higher education, her writing was informed by her understanding of how marginalized individuals can shift into the center of society while still being discriminated against. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center was a direct response to the discrimination she experienced as a Black woman taking classes with white, wealthy women at Stanford.