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Frann Michel

Professor Emerita

Headshot of Frann Michel

Contact Information


  • Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
  • A.B. Barnard College

Teaching Philosophy

Feminist and critical pedagogies have long recognized the importance of the student-centered classroom. This can take relatively simple and spatial forms, such as when we ask students to sit in a circle, so that they can see and speak to each other, rather than routing all discussion through the teacher. It can also shape the content as well as the form of a class discussion, as when I ask students to bring to class questions for discussion, and to decide in small groups which of their questions will provide the basis for our full-class discussion. The purpose of such moves is of course to encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning, since a real education cannot simply be passively received, but must, as Adrienne Rich noted some thirty years ago, be actively claimed. Whether students are scrutinizing a text or crafting a sentence, finding a voice or developing listening skills, the cultivation of attention and critical thinking entails vital engagement. Students are not banks into which information can be deposited for later withdrawal on the final examination, but co-participants in a shared process of exploration and discovery. Thus I am less likely to lecture than to share my knowledge and thinking by choosing texts, asking questions, and providing diverse occasions for student learning. Though I hope for the classroom to remain a respectful and productive space, I recognize that learning cannot always be a safe or comfortable process. My goal is to make intellectual risk-taking possible and discomfort productive.


I currently chair the Cinema Studies Program at Willamette, I helped found the Women's and Gender Studies Program, and I have also contributed to the American Ethnic Studies program. My publications have addressed feminist and queer theory, and have focused on narrative fiction and film. I teach courses in American literatures, literary and feminist theory, speculative fiction, and film studies.

Selected Recent Publications

"Ancestors and Aliens: Queer Transformation and Affective Estrangement in Octavia Butler's Fiction." The Female Face of Shame. Ed. Patricia Moran and Erica L. Johnson. (University of Indiana Press, 2013).

"How to Bring Your Kids Up Sadomasochist: Intimate-Partner Violence and the Twilight Phenomenon." Psychoanalysis, Culture, and Society 16 (2011): 431-439. Erratum PCS 17 (2012): 111.

"Eating the (M)Other: Black Matrilineage and Cheryl Dunye's Feature Films." Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge 14 (2007). 

"From 'Their Eyes' to 'New Eyes': Suffering Victims and Cultivated Aesthetics in Born into Brothels." PostScript 26.3 (2007): 53-61.

Willamette University


Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.