Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks: a review by Plain(s)Feminist [50BPT]

Today's contribution comes from Plain(s) Feminist. Plain(s) Feminist has been blogging about feminism and other stuff since 2006. She lives in Minnesota, teaches Women's Studies, and is mom to Bean and a couple of peeing cats.
hooks is the one who invigorated teaching for me - I read this book during a particularly challenging semester of teaching, and this helped me go in each day refreshed and ready to try again. hooks also reminded me of the liberating potential of education, which is why I wanted to teach in the first place.
"Cultural theorist hooks means to challenge preconceptions, and it is a rare reader who will be able to walk away from her without considerable thought. Despite the frequent appearance of the dry word "pedagogy," this collection of essays about teaching is anything but dull or detached. hooks begins her meditations on class, gender and race in the classroom with the confession that she never wanted to teach. By combining personal narrative, essay, critical theory, dialogue and a fantasy interview with herself (the latter artificial construct being the least successful), hooks declares that education today is failing students by refusing to acknowledge their particular histories. Criticizing the teaching establishment for employing an over-factualized knowledge to deny and suppress diversity, hooks accuses colleagues of using "the classroom to enact rituals of control that were about domination and the unjust exercise of power." Far from a castigation of her field, however, Teaching to Transgress is full of hope and excitement for the possibility of education to liberate and include. She is a gentle, though firm, critic, as in the essay "Holding My Sister's Hand," which could well become a classic about the distrust between black and white feminists. While some will find her rejection of certain difficult theory narrow-minded, it is a small flaw in an inspired and thought-provoking collection." (Publishers Weekly)

50 Books for Problematic Times is still accepting submissions!


  1. Ah, love bell hooks

    RMJ--Did you get my email?

  2. I did - thanks thanks thanks and sorry for the lack of reply. I'm super excited about your terrific entries and will probably run Alice Walker or Toni Morrison next week.


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