Wisdom of Bell Hooks Research Proposal

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Bell Hooks Wisdom

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Bell Hooks, Born Gloria Watkins on September 25th 1952, is a prolific black activist, writer and scholar. Her works have sent shockwaves through the feminist and black activism arenas. She demonstrates a keen awareness of the contradictions of life and discrimination. Probably, her most famous written work is Ain't I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism (1981), where she equates racial discrimination to sexism, challenges the feminist camps to begin to include black women in the fight for women's rights and most importantly challenges black women to fight as adamantly for feminism as they have for racial civil rights. As an interesting anecdote, Gloria Watkins is still Hooks' legal name but she chose a writing persona early on in her career and is known by most people by her writer's voice and name Bell Hooks, which is a testament to her mother and grandmother who both shared the name in some form. (Carney Smith & Phelps, 1996, p. 297) bell hooks (nee Gloria Watkins) is Distinguished Professor of English at City College in New York. Born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1952, hooks, received her B.A. from Stanford University in 1973, her M.A. In 1976 from the University of Wisconsin and her Ph.D. In 1983 from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Although hooks is mainly known as a feminist thinker, her writings cover a broad range of topics on gender, race, teaching and the significance of media for contemporary culture. She strongly believes that these topics cannot be dealt with as separately, but must be understood as being interconnectedness. As an example, she refers to the idea of a "White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy" and its interconnectedness, rather than to its more traditionally separated and component parts. (Provenzo, ND, NP)

Through this encompassing ideology Hooks demonstrates significant wisdom, in her ability to integrate complex models as well as in general as a great social reformer.

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Wisdom of Bell Hooks Assignment

Hooks is a prolific writer whose works are as varied as her life. A text that I found particularly telling of her wisdom is her work Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (1994). In this work one sees the synthesis of many years as a thinker and educator, integrating many of her works into a pedagogy of education that better serves a multi-cultural society. Two other memorable works that are indicative of Hooks' development as a writer and a purveyor of wisdom are Killing Rage: Ending Racism (1995) and Where We Stand: Class Matters (2000), both of which challenge traditional conceptions of race, culture and class and attempt to develop ideals that further the thoughts and actions of human kind. These four works are really only the tip of the iceberg, with regard to Hooks' works as she crosses genre, working on both prose and poetry, theory, non-fiction, fiction, lecture tours and even more modern media assimilations of recorded interviews and films. Hooks, is noted as one of the most important intellectuals of our day.

It is rare, that an individual, while still living is so celebrated and studied, as the majority of biographical works are written or at the very least published posthumously and yet Bell Hooks has been recognized with several essential biographical studies as well as a whole score of literary, political and scholarly criticism. Secondary, to Hooks' own autobiographical works, Bone Black: Memoirs of a Girlhood (1996) Wounds of Passion: The Writing Life (1997) are many published works by other writers who build upon and further her theories of gender, class, culture and race as constant schematic themes in humanity, just a few of those are mentioned here; Fox, Tom. "Literacy and Activism: A Response to bell hooks." Journal of Advanced Composition 14.2 (Fall 1994): 564-70. Middleton, Joyce Irene. "bell hooks on Literacy and Teaching: A Response." Journal of Advanced Composition 14.2 (Fall 1994): 558-64. Olson, Gary and Elizabeth Hirsh. "Feminist Praxis and the Politics of Literacy: A Conversation with bell hooks." Women Writing Culture. ed. Olson and Hirsh. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995. 105-137. Thomson, Clive. "Culture, Identity, and the Dialogic: bell hooks and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak." Dialogism and Cultural Criticism. ed. Thomson and Hans Raj Dua. London: Mestengo, 1995. 47-64. Jones, Lisa. "Rebel Without a Pause." Village Voice Literary Supplement. Oct. 1992. Florence, Namulundah. Bell Hooks' engaged pedagogy: a transgressive education for critical consciousness Critical studies in education and culture series. Westport, Conn.: Bergin & Garvey, 1998.

Scholars and laymen and women alike find Hooks fascinating and engaging and her theories indicative of a modern translation of wisdom and vision, regarding some of the most pressing social issues of the modern world. Hooks, most astounding character trait is her ability to see contradictions in social and public policy and propose solutions and standards to address such contradictions, yet another aspect of her wisdom is the development of theory and practical criticism of a broad variety of knowledge-based ideals, including feminism, racism, education, poverty and many other social and political controversies.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the theory and/or opinions of Bell Hooks, it is clear that she is easily defined as wise. Wisdom is an essential human element which has been fundamentally studied and debated for centuries but is not necessarily easy to define. Some scholars express that the study of wisdom began as early as the writings of the bible and other traditional culturally derived sources of faith, with regard to living ones life in accordance with the needs and roles life sets forth for you, allowing change to percolate, when it is needed and recognize the needs of an evolving society for change. (Brown, 2000, p. 15-19) the most logical manner in which to describe the wisdom of Bell Hooks is through the assimilation of a collective definitions of implicit psychological theories of wisdom which are described by Baltes & Staudinger as having five general characteristics:

Wisdom is a concept that carries specific meaning that is widely shared and understood in its language-based representation. For instance, wisdom is clearly distinct from other wisdom-related psychological concepts such as social intelligence, maturity, or sagacity. (2) Wisdom is judged to be an exceptional level of human functioning. It is related to excellence and ideals of human development. (3) Wisdom identifies a state of mind and behavior that includes the coordinated and balanced interplay of intellectual, affective, and emotional aspects of human functioning. (4) Wisdom is viewed as associated with a high degree of personal and interpersonal competence including the ability to listen, evaluate, and to give advice. (5) Wisdom involves good intentions. It is used for the well-being of oneself and others. (Baltes & Staudinger, 2000, p.122)

Utilizing, an implicit definition of wisdom is particularly fitting for Bell Hooks as she historically expresses the idea that even from very early on her character led her to question accepted contexts of being, and especially so when they contradicted her own rational thought and the "way things were supposed to be," fair, equal and representative of self. She tells an interesting story with regard to how theory became a liberalizing practice, even when she was very young. In the fifth chapter of Teaching to Transgress she discusses the fact that she remembers having a conversation with her mother where she tried to sway her to a theory that went something like this; father should not have the authority to punish me because I barely know him, as a result of the fact that he is always working, to support the family and the patriarchal ideal of one working parent (the father) and one stay at home parent (the nurturing mother). Though she as an adult, felt for her mother as she thought back to what it must have felt like to have such an "alien" as a child in a difficult time, yet she still recognizes that her implicit ideals surrounded questioning the status quo and challenging the disparate world around her and she did and does so fervently and frequently. (1994, p. 59-60)

Working on the same theme as Hooks childhood, and adult synopsis of it demonstrates the Hooks is intensely insightful about the manner in which she learned, as child and the way it shaped her wisdom and development. "I went to school at a historical moment where I was being taught by the same teachers who had taught my mother, her sisters, and brothers." (1994, p. 3) These teachers were engaged with those they recognized as gifted (such as Hooks). They involved themselves in the lives of the children, knew their parents, and foresaw these children as the next generation of change agents for their culture and that of the oppressors. They were all also recognized by Hooks as not only black women but revolutionary black women who taught the pedagogy of revolution and change, in much the same way Paulo Freire envisioned teachers in Pedagogy of the Oppressed as revolutionary change agents who taught students to challenge the status quo and unite as a race of oppressed… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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