Michigan State University

Ellen McCallum

Woman with wavy gray hair and glasses wearing a black shirt and jacket

Contact Information

Office: C624 Wells Hall
Email: emc@msu.edu


Ellen McCallum’s teaching and research range across feminist and queer theory, psychoanalysis, deconstruction, aesthetics, American literature, and film studies. Her most recent books are The Cambridge History of Gay and Lesbian Literature (2013) and Queer Times, Queer Becomings (SUNY2011), both coedited with Mikko Tuhkanen. Her forthcoming book, Unmaking The Making of Americans, takes up questions of aesthetics, form, temporality, emotion, and narrative, reading them through Stein’s long novel (SUNY 2018).

McCallum’s first book, Object Lessons: How to Do Things with Fetishism, reclaimed perversion as a productive pradigm for feminist theory. Through a close reading in the passages in Freud’s work where fetishism appears, McCallum shows how fetishism undermines the precarious binaries of masculinity/femininity or perverse /normal or heterosexual/homosexual and that fetishism’s disruption even troubles the subject/object binary that founds Western metaphysics. Fetishism’s ability to produce a multiplicity of sexual differences and to negotiate loss through a generative practice of substitution and interpretation holds valuable object lessons for postmodern feminist theory.

Recent publications have investigated the aesthetic subject in Proust, Bersani, and Sade; defined the queer modern gothic; and argued for teaching Stein’s The Making of Americans. A series of essays have investigated transmedial forms on the boundary between the verbal and the visual. One such essay on Anne Carson’s novel in verse, Autobiography of Red, reconsiders classic photography theory in light of the tensions around that book’s verbal photographs. Another essay explores how montage in Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera helps us teach Faulkner’s As I Lay DyingA third examines telephonicity and the formation of the informational subject in Gaddis’s JR.

McCallum teaches core courses ranging from the fundamentals of literary and critical theory for undergraduate or graduate students, to film and media theory. In addition, McCallum offers courses in feminist and queer film, women’s experimental writing in the tradition of Dickinson and Stein, and LGBTQ studies. McCallum’s most recent graduate seminars have focused on queer and feminist forms for reading as well as digital mapping and new narrative.

Courses Taught

Critical Theory (all under ENG802):

  • Humaneutics
  • Does Language Speak Us?
  • Reading, Writing, and Form
  • On Representation (hybrid grad/undergrad ENG481/802)
  • Reading Psychoanalysis for Reading

Queer Theory, Feminist Theory, and LGBTQ Studies:

  • ENG355: Literature and Sexuality: A World of LGBTQ Literature
  • ENG482: Feminist Criticism: Freud and Feminism
  • ENG819: Queer Theory: What to Do with Bodies and Pleasures
  • ENG820: Sade and Feminism
  • ENG820: Reading Feminist Reading Queer Reading
  • ENG886: About Time—Feminism and Queer Theory
  • WS304: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) and Sexuality Studies
  • WS492: Advanced Seminar in Women’s and Gender Studies

Film Studies:

  • FLM330: Classical Film and Media Theory
  • FLM331: Contemporary Film and Media Theory
  • FLM452: The ABCs of Feminist Francophone Cinema
  • FLM355: Melodrama and its Reinterpretations
  • FLM452: New Queer Cinema
  • ENG431C: Feminist Cinema as Counter Cinema


  • ENG353: Readings in Women Writers: Studies in Lyric
  • ENG484B: Stein and Her Legacy
  • ENG 491H/819: Americans in Paris (hybrid grad/undergrad)
  • ENG820/481: Digital Mapping and New Narrative (hybrid grad/undergrad; DH credit)
  • ENG819: The Novel Innovations of Proust & Stein
  • ENG886 & 491H: Space Theory and Postmodern Literature
Close Menu