Assistant Professor, Cultural Studies and Humanities
"I challenge students to consider the ways in which “nature” is a cultural construct, as well as how images and discourses of nature are used ideologically to justify social inequalities around gender, race, class, sexuality, and (dis)ability."
Michelle Yates received her PhD in Cultural Studies from the University of California at Davis and a BA in Women’s Studies from the Pennsylvania State University. Her work is situated in the environmental humanities, taking an environmental justice and ecofeminist approach. In particular, Yates looks at environmental discourses of race and gender in popular Hollywood films, like Soylent Green (1973), WALL-E (2008) and Interstellar (2014), and how these films are Edenic recovery narratives that reproduce a passive/active, nature/culture, female/male binary dichotomy.
Yates is the co-founder and co-director of the Chicago Feminist Film Festival, a grassroots festival of predominantly short films featuring issues of gender, sexuality, and social justice often missing from mainstream media.
Yates teaches courses including Urban Images in Film and Media, Nature and Environmentalism in U.S. Culture; The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness; Feminism and Film, Technology and Culture; Marx and Marxisms: A Seminar on Marxist Cultural Theory; Introduction to Cultural Studies; and Cultural Theories.