“Unmaking ‘The Making of Americans’: Toward an Aesthetic Ontology” by E.L. McCullum— Reading Differently

McCallum, E.L. “Unmaking ‘The Making of Americans’: Toward an Aesthetic Ontology”, SUNY University Press,2018.

Reading Differently

Amos Lassen

As a graduate student, I fell in love with the writings of Gertrude Stein and unlike so many others, I felt she had something to say. Then the news leaked that se had been a Nazi collaborator and my respect for her work was diminished considerably. Regardless of her political views, she did have something to say and E.L. McCullum shows us that in her epic novel, “The Making of Americans”, she taught us how to read differently. To do so we have to change the way we read now. In “The Unmaking of Americans”, each chapter “works through close readings of Stein’s text and a philosophical interlocutor to track a series of theoretical questions: what forms queer time, what are the limits of story, how do we feel emotion, how can we agree on a shared reality if interpretation and imagination intervene, and how do particular media shape how we convey this rich experience?” We become aware of Stein’s agenda and epistemological drive and see her thought experiments that bear on questions that are central to some of the most vibrant conversations in literary studies today.” Of late, we have had ongoing debates about the practices of reading, the difficulty of reading, and even the impossibility of reading and we now face the fact that the time has come to have a fuller critical engagement with reading and this book shows how.

Here is the Table of Contents:

List of Illustrations


What to Make of The Making of Americans: An Introduction to Reading


  1. It Takes Time to Make Queer People: Heidegger through Stein


  1. Why Should Any One Keep on Going?: Feeling the Story


  1. A Real Aesthetic Aspiration: Body-Maps of Emotion’s Narrative


  1. I Write for Myself and Strangers: Kant with Stein


  1. Still Narrative: Matisse, Deleuze, and Stein

Works Cited


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