Many of the essays reflect hooks' struggle with the feminist movement. Although many women are mentioned throughout the essays and her exposure and identity as a feminist is cited as a defining influence, no one feminist thinker appears to have affected hooks' thinking as much as Freire and Thich (both men), at least not in this collection. Though this may be an honest reflection of her experience, it is a disappointment for the reader looking for the kind of feminist mentor (particularly a black feminist academic mentor) that hooks appears to be for her students. Despite this, Teaching to Transgress is an espousal of a radical, inclusive and visionary feminism, and the resulting feminist pedagogy.
Ultimately this book is about joy and about hope. Though hooks begins the collection with her frustrations about having entered teaching, she ends by confessing she is most joyous in the classroom ("Ecstasy: Teaching and Learning without Limits"). Teaching is her political activism: "The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility.
In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labour for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom" (p.207).
As students, educators and critical thinkers, Teaching to Transgress affords another location of possibility-renewed faith in our collective and individual ability to move beyond boundaries, to be liberated, to transgress.
judy mckinley is a Toronto-based community worker, educator and student.