Why bell hooks’s title is decrease case


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Author Bell Hooks chose not to capitalize her name in hopes of drawing public attention to her work. But over the course of her decades at the forefront of black feminist writing, the choice of punctuation became a constant curiosity.

The writer, who helped shape debates about race and gender for decades, died Wednesday at her home in Berea, Kentucky, at the age of 69.

From an early age, Hooks, née Gloria Jean Watkins, wanted to find a way to honor her maternal great-grandmother while also detaching herself from her work. She wrote dozens of books using her great-grandmother’s name, but did not capitalize it.

During a 2013 visit to Rollins College, she said an audience that she always wrote her name in lowercase because she wanted people to focus on her books, not “who I am.” (Ironically, the spelling of her name became a matter of public fascination.)

Bell Hooks, pioneering black feminist and social critic, dies aged 69

The influential feminist author’s books, includingam i not a woman‘ and ‘All About Love’ explored the intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality. “Her work has been credited with redefining feminism and expanding a movement often seen as primarily for middle- and upper-class white mothers and wives.” The Washington Post wrote in Hook’s obituary.

The pseudonym may also have given Hooks some needed perspective. “She also wrote to erase her young self, young Gloria Jean Watkins, whom she described as ‘the girl who was always wrong, always punished.'” The Post said in a profile from 1999. The author continued, “She was the girl who had a hot iron on her arm and begged her to leave her alone. … This written death should be liberating.”

“It’s not so much that the personal is political,” she says said during a conversation at The New School in 2016. But the psyche is political, as are the trauma and personal experiences that shape people.

Despite the self described “Gimmick” of her name Hooks was ambivalent if people got it wrong.

“Even if people capitalize my name, I don’t freak out, even if it wasn’t my choice,” she says said in a 2009 interview. “I’m not attached to it, and in that sense I think we need to decide which issues are really important?

“I think we’re obsessed with the personal in America,” she continued, “in a way that blinds us to more important issues in life.”

Still, she admitted to “getting a little mad at people who text me and want me to do things and misspell my name.”