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Hood (Object Lessons) Paperback – January 28, 2016

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“From executioners in modern-day Florida, to the Ku Klux Klan, to ‘hug a hoodie’ Cameron – this scholarly study explores a complicated cultural history … The book is at its best on the connections between hoods and marginalised communities. In her lively discussion of David Cameron’s 2006 “hug-a-hoodie” speech, Kinney notes the no-win situation in which many young black people find themselves. On the one hand, hoods serve a purpose for those with disadvantaged and precarious lives, allowing them to hide from hostile attention and violence, even to feel empowered. On the other, the garments themselves become stigmatised, attracting the very attention that they seek to avoid.” – The Guardian

"Provocative and highly informative, Alison Kinney's Hood considers this seemingly neutral garment accessory and reveals it to be vexed by a long history of violence, from the Grim Reaper to the KKK and beyond―a history we would do well to address, and redress. Readers will never see hoods the same way again." ―Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

"In spry and intelligent prose, Alison Kinney tours the many uses of the hood in human culture, exploring seemingly unconnected byways and guiding the reader through some surprising connections. The ubiquitous hood, she shows, is an artifact of human relationships with power, the state, and one another. By the end of my time with Hood, I had laughed out loud, sighed in exasperation, and felt by turns both furious and proud." ―Rebecca Onion, history writer for Slate Magazine

"This slim, energetic book ricochets between medieval executioners, Abu Ghraib, anarchist protestors, the Ku Klux Klan, Trayvon Martin, and the Grim Reaper in search of a Unified Theory of Hoods. Surprisingly, it ends up finding one, and unearths all manner of fascinating hood-related facts along the way." ―Pacific Standard

"Part of the publisher Bloomsbury’s 'Object Lessons' series, Hood contains a definite chill as Kinney tracks the history and significance of the garment through the 15th century to the present. ... Kinney tells a riveting story of the origins of the Ku Klux Klan’s hooded uniforms. ... This examination is part of the strength of the Object Lessons series. (Other titles look at Silence, Glass, and Dust.) Kinney, a writer in Brooklyn, New York, knits seemingly disparate subjects ― burkinis and gentrification, for example ― together in such a way that the connection is instantly appreciated – and she does her work in fewer than 200 pages. It’s thought-provoking without the lecture. In examining these small yet significant objects of daily life, we find new meaning in the world around us. Next time you get a little chilly and reach for your hoodie, thank Kinney for this history lesson." ―Tara Jefferson, The Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards Book Review

"The Object Lessons series achieves something very close to magic: the books take ordinary―even banal―objects and animate them with a rich history of invention, political struggle, science, and popular mythology. Filled with fascinating details and conveyed in sharp, accessible prose, the books make the everyday world come to life. Be warned: once you've read a few of these, you'll start walking around your house, picking up random objects, and musing aloud: 'I wonder what the story is behind this thing?'"―Steven Johnson, best-selling author of How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

"The Object Lessons project, edited by game theory legend Ian Bogost and cultural studies academic Christopher Schaberg, commissions short essays and small, beautiful books about everyday objects from shipping containers to toast. The Atlantic hosts a collection of "mini object-lessons", brief essays that take a deeper look at things we generally only glance upon ('Is bread toast only insofar as a human toaster perceives it to be "done?" Is bread toast when it reaches some specific level of nonenzymatic browning?'). More substantive is Bloomsbury's collection of small, gorgeously designed books that delve into their subjects in much more depth." ―Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

About the Author

Alison Kinney is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn, New York, USA. Her writing has appeared online at Paris Review Daily, The Atlantic, Hyperallergic, the New York Times, The New Inquiry, New Republic, Narratively, and other publications.

Product Details

  • Series: Object Lessons
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (January 28, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501307401
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501307409
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.6 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This is a thought provoking look at how hoods have been perceived throughout history. I liked how the author noted that hoods are often used to hide unjust behaviors (KKK, executions, etc.) and also used as an excuse for racist behavior. This is an interesting book that covers some very difficult concepts. I look forward to reading future books by this author.
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Format: Paperback
Hood is a must-read Object Lesson for anyone interested in social and racial justice. Not merely an obscure object of clothing, the ubiquitous hood has been used to hide, shame, protect, embolden and subjugate its wearers. Kinney brilliantly weaves together different anecdotes in order to bring a stunning portrait of the power and controversy that can surround such a simple piece of clothing. From hooded executioners, to hooded executioneers, from the KKK to Trayvon Martin, she delves into what the Hood has come to symbolize in our society. The first two chapters are the most cohesive and tightly knit, though I also appreciated the looser format of the subsequent chapters. I was especially touched by the last chapter's review of the Trayvon Martin case and the Black Lives Matter movement. In particular, I was impacted by the contrast drawn between wearers of the hood (or in this case, the 'hoodie')--how it is often criminalized when people of color wear them, but gains no such notoriety when worn by white people. It's a powerful comparison that underscores our highly racialized society and the still-pervasive influence of white supremacy. As Kinney asserts near the end of the book: "The history of hoods is that of people going about their daily lives only to face pain and injustice. It's also the history of people determining whose lives do and don't count, who is or isn't human, what is or isn't an object....So long as we all wear hoods, so long as we experience privilege or precarity in them, we're forced into the struggle between the humanizers and the objectifiers, between vulnerable lives and the reduction of people to objects."
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Last semester, I taught a new course on Monster Movies. This was, of course, tremendous fun, but it was also serious work. We watched so many wonderful films, read great essays about them, and had lively conversations each week. One of the leitmotifs of the course was "People are the worst." This was not really where I'd anticipated taking the course. We had vampires and zombies and artificially constructed horrors, but time and again, week after week, we found ourselves concluding that however bad the demons/dragons/revenants/Evil Dead were, it was the humans who really, really were just the worst.

The overarching narrative of course crystalized on the day that we discussed George Romero's 1968 classic Night of the Living Dead, the film that reinvented the zombie and became the source for more or less all subsequent zombie narratives. It is a brilliant film. Really. If you don't believe me, you haven't seen it. Get a copy. You need to see this film. The last few minutes transform all that has come before, and it is all suddenly (according to Romero, unintentionally) a parable about the ways that we divide ourselves from one another, and in particular the ways that race, or racial thought, leads to wanton waste of life.

There isn't a hood within it, not that I recall anyway, and yet I kept thinking of it as I read Alison Kinney's phenomenal new book, Hood, in Bloomsbury's innovative Object Lessons series. Each book in the series focuses on a single object type -- Shipping Container, Cigarette Lighter, Bookshelf.
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