This poem is part of our online special issue honoring bell hooks
Teaching to Transgress
By Margaret Stetz
Love is on the syllabus. You will feel it when you come into our classrooms eyes downward thinking you are too much your voice your style so loud all wrong. Look up. Speak out. There is only this moment to be to be together. We will hear you we will hold you because she taught us how her words a hook piercing through our skin a bell sounding in our ears tolling telling that on the final exam the question must be did we love you enough?
Artist’s Statement: As a white working-class person from Queens, New York, I had to suppress and alter many aspects of myself to become who I am today, the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware with a PhD from Harvard University. Reading and teaching bell hooks’s work, however, has always encouraged me to embrace, rather than deny, elements of my own identity and experience, which do not conform to the class-based standards of propriety that still prevail in academia. Instead I learned from hooks to reach out actively to undergraduate students of diverse backgrounds and make them feel that they, too, belong in the world of higher education. Her essays have taught me so much about what feminist pedagogy must be and why: that it should be informed not only by inclusion, but also by love for the subject, for the process, and for one another.
Margaret D. Stetz is the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women’s Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware, where she teaches the courses “Educating Women,” “Girlhood and Violence,” and “The New Woman in Black and White.” She is the author and/or editor of several volumes, including British Women’s Comic Fiction, 1890–1990 and Legacies of the Comfort Women of World War II, as well as more than 120 published essays. In the past year, she has also had poems appear in numerous literary journals and in the Washington Post.