Catherine Squires in her colloquium talk discussed her attempts to bring bell hooks to the discipline of Journalism and Mass Communication. She linked hooks' ideas of civility and political engagement to those of John Dewey and C. Wright Mills. Squires emphasized the idea of civility in an approach of 'what I can do for you', decentering the self and promoting 'civilized' exchange. I was curious about this discussion of civility and why hooks utilizes this term given its proximity to civility and the idea of 'civilization' (as opposed to barbarism) in western ideas of liberalism and democracy. I wondered what Squires' own understandings, critiques, and interventions are regarding this. While I appreciate efforts that seek to encourage discussion between traditional disciplines and feminist studies, in utilizing the terms of debate of that discipline to draw feminist theory into it, what potential is lost, and what remains, of critique and alteration of that discipline? Could an approach that keeps hooks' discussion at critical disagreement with Communications Studies (or Dewey and Mills) and allowing her words to remain at odds with these ideas be an enactment of the very approach that hooks proposes - of sitting with disagreement and ambiguity?
I also am curious about how the 'you' to be helped in 'what I can do for you' is assumed to be the other in political discourse, and not someone who is similarly positioned with respect to social location. Can one reorient this language to think of space to speak with 'you's who may be similarly oppressed? This would also be a political choice to generate spaces of discussion and action, which supports others without centralizing self or re-centering an oppressor.