Noliwe Rooks’ talk explores the role that black women played at the beginning and the end of the first international Dove brand “real beauty” campaign and how and why that campaign used feminism as an advertising tool.

Rooks is currently an associate professor in Africana studies and feminist, gender, sexuality studies at Cornell University, where she is also the director of graduate studies in Africana studies. She is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work explores the racial implications of beauty, fashion and adornment, as well as the way race and gender both impact and are impacted by popular culture, social history and political life in the United States.

Rooks is the author of three books. The first, Hair Raising: Beauty, Culture and African American Women (1996, Rutgers University Press) won both the 1997 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Book, and the Public Library Associations 1997 award for Outstanding University Press Book. Her second book, Ladies Pages: African American Women’s Magazines and the Culture that Made Them (Rutgers University Press) was published in 2004. Her most recent book, White Money/Black Power: African American Studies and the Crises of Race in Higher Education was published in 2006 with Beacon Press. She has two forthcoming edited collections: “Black Fashion: Gender. Art. Politics” a special issue of NKA: Journal of Contemporary Art, Duke University Press, Fall 2015, No. 37 and Women and Magazines in the 21st Century: Race, Writing and New Media (Under Consideration). Her current book project is about the politics of race and economics of K-12 education in the United States and tentatively titled, Apartheid in America and Why it Matters That We Have Reached the Beginning of the End of Public Education.

The talk was sponsored by the Andrew Mellon Foundation (Mellon Humanities Initiative).