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Michele Elam

William Robertson Coe Professor
Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
Director of the Graduate Program in Modern Thought and Literature (MTL)
At Stanford Since: 


Michele Elam is the William Robertson Coe Professor of American Studies, the Olivier Nomellini Family University Fellow in Undergraduate Education, Professor of English, and Director of Stanford University's interdisciplinary graduate program, Modern Thought and Literature (MTL). She is affiliated with the Program in Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Studies, African & African American Studies, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity and on the Director’s Council for the

Elam is the author of Race, Work, and Desire in American Literature, 1860-1930 (Cambridge University Press, 2003), The Souls of Mixed Folk: Race, Politics, and Aesthetics in the New Millennium (Stanford University Press, 2011), and is Editor of the Cambridge Companion to James Baldwin (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She has published articles in African American Review, American Literature, Theatre Journal and Genre, among others as well as op-eds for CNN, Huffington Post, and Boston Review. Her work appears in many collections on race and culture, including Subjects and Citizens: Nation, Race and Gender from Oroonoko to Anita Hill (eds. Cathy Davidson and Michael Moon, Duke University Press) and in W.E.B. Du Bois and the Gender of the Color-Line (eds. Susan Gillman and Alys Weinbaum, University of Minnesota Press).

Chair of the Executive Committee for the Black Literatures & Culture Division of the Modern Language Association and Chair of the Executive Council for the American Literature Society at MLA, she serves on the Editorial Boards for the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and African American Review and is Advisor for the Mixed Race Initiative, 100 universities worldwide joined in a multi-institution synchronous teaching program centered around the Asian American Literary Review Special Issue on Mixed Race (2013), and for the Baldwin Project.

Dedicated to teaching, Elam is thrice the recipient of the St Clair Drake Outstanding Teaching Award at Stanford (2004, 2006, 2015) and the Faculty Award for “Outstanding Service to Undergraduate Students as a Teacher, Advisor and Mentor” from the Program in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity (2013), among her other teaching awards. Recent undergraduate and graduate seminars include James Baldwin & American Culture; Theorizing Hybridity: Crossings of Race, Gender and Genre; Mixed Race Politics & Culture; African American Poetics; Mixed Race Literature in the U.S and South Africa; Narratives of Enslavement & Theories of Redress; Modernism & the Harlem Renaissance; Gender Studies for the 21st Century; Literature by Women of Color; Race Theory in the Post-Race Era; Got Genius? W.E.B. Du Bois; Toni Morrison & the Occasion of Black Feminism; Art & Activism; Literature of Inequality: Have & Have-Nots from the Gilded Age to the Occupy Era.

Michele Elam has recently been awarded the 2018 Darwin T. Turner Award for Outstanding Scholarship by the African American Literature and Culture Society. She will be honored at the American Literature Association 29th Annual Conference .