Camille Paglia


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Camille Anna Paglia (/ˈpɑːliə/; born April 2, 1947) is an American feminist academic and social critic. Paglia has been a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since 1984. She is critical of many aspects of modern culture and is the author of Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990) and other books. 

She is also a critic of contemporary American feminism and post-structuralism, as well as a commentator on multiple aspects of American culture such as its visual art, music, and film history. In the autumn of 1972, Paglia began teaching at Bennington College, which hired her in part thanks to a recommendation from Harold Bloom. At Bennington, she befriended the philosopher James Fessenden, who first taught there in the same semester.

Through her study of the classics and the scholarly work of Jane Ellen Harrison, James George Frazer, Erich Neumann, and others, Paglia developed a theory of sexual history that contradicted a number of ideas fashionable at the time, hence her criticism of Marija Gimbutas, Carolyn Heilbrun, Kate Millett, and others. She laid out her ideas on matriarchy, androgyny, homosexuality, sadomasochism, and other topics in her Yale Ph.D. thesis, Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art, which she defended in December 1974. 

In September 1976, she gave a public lecture drawing on that dissertation. She discussed Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, followed by remarks on Diana Ross, Gracie Allen, Yul Brynner, and Stéphane Audran.

Paglia wrote that she "nearly came to blows with the founding members of the women's studies program at the State University of New York at Albany when they categorically denied that hormones influence human experience or behavior." Similar fights with feminists and academics culminated in a 1978 incident[further explanation needed], which led her to resign from Bennington; after a lengthy standoff with the administration, Paglia accepted a settlement from the college and resigned in 1979.

Paglia finished Sexual Personae in the early 1980s but could not get it published. She supported herself with visiting and part-time teaching jobs at Yale, Wesleyan, and other Connecticut colleges. Her paper, "The Apollonian Androgyne and the Faerie Queene," was published in English Literary Renaissance, Winter 1979, and J. Hillis Miller cited her dissertation in his April 1980 article "Wuthering Heights and the Ellipses of Interpretation" in Journal of Religion in Literature, but her academic career was otherwise stalled. 

In a 1995 letter to Boyd Holmes, she recalled: "I earned a little extra money by doing some local features reporting for a New Haven alternative newspaper (The Advocate) in the early 1980s". She wrote articles on New Haven's historic pizzerias and on an old house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad.

In 1984, she joined the faculty of the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, which merged in 1987 with the Philadelphia College of Art to become the University of the Arts. Paglia is on the editorial board of the classics and humanities journal Arion. She wrote a regular column for Salon.com from 1995 to 2001 and again from 2007 to 2009. Paglia resumed writing a Salon.com column in 2016.

Paglia cooperated with Carl Rollyson and Lisa Paddock in their writing of Susan Sontag: The Making of an Icon, sending them detailed letters from which they quoted with her permission. Rollyson and Paddock note that Sontag "had her lawyer put our publisher on notice" when she realized that they were investigating her life and career.

Paglia participates in the decennial poll of film professionals conducted by Sight & Sound, which asks participants to submit a list of what they believe to be the ten greatest films of all time. According to her responses to the poll in 2002 and 2012, the films Paglia holds in the highest regard include Ben-Hur, Citizen Kane, La Dolce Vita, The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, Gone with the Wind, Lawrence of Arabia, North by Northwest, Orphée, Persona, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Ten Commandments, and Vertigo.

In 2005, Paglia was named one of the top 100 public intellectuals by the journals Foreign Policy and Prospect. In 2012, an article in The New York Times remarked that "[a]nyone who has been following the body count of the culture wars over the past decades knows Paglia." Paglia has said that she is willing to have her entire career judged on the basis of her composition of what she considers to be "probably the most important sentence that she has ever written": "God is man's greatest idea."

Best author’s book


Sexual Personae

Michael Pollan