Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper

Contextualize was one of my go to words as an academic. I loved adding “context” to historical events and I loved reading authors who did the same. Outside of academia, there’s little use for the word. Sure people still add context, but no one ever said “Wow, Bob Costas contextualized that luge competition really well.”

Eloquent Rage is a book that provides context for the experiences of a gifted black girl growing up poor in the South. A mix of memoir and social analysis, Brittney Cooper blends her personal stories, like when her grandmother told her she needed to have more sex, with academic analysis on a variety of topics including feminism and race, politics, and popular culture. Overall, it felt like a collection of essays, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can start and stop if that’s your reading style.

Brittney Cooper is one of a very select few – academics who write truly enjoyable, interesting, and relatable prose. She takes the only good thing about academic writing (clear structure and argument) and leaves the rest behind. Though you can see her academic background at times, it’s something that will probably go largely unnoticed – because her writing is so entertaining.

Eloquent Rage is a compelling memoir, a collection of essays that analyze social and cultural norms, a master class on writing for a public audience as an academic, and a peek into the life of a black woman in the US.