Who's Who of Professional Women


Domna C. Stanton Distinguished Professor of French at CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, NY in her apartment on the Upper East Side in New York City on November 14th, 2006

Domna C. Stanton, PhD, is an internationally recognized scholar of French language, history and culture with a focus on gender and class dynamics in the early modern period and the 17th century. Dr. Stanton’s work is considered foundational to the contemporary application of feminist theory to French history, and her research interests have spanned from in-depth study and critique of early female authors, issues of attribution and perspective in historiography and national identity, and early modern attitudes on race and slavery. She has been extensively published, with several seminal books in print, and has contributed articles and essays to numerous academic journals. Dr. Stanton is perhaps best-known as the author of the 1980 classic “The Aristocrat as Art: A Study of the Honnête Homme and the Dandy in 17th- and 19th-Century French Literature,” and “The Female Autograph: Discourses of Sexuality from Aristotle to AIDS” in 1992, a collection of essays examining autobiographical writing by women as a practice of performance and identity construction throughout history.

Dr. Stanton was born in Greece and immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of 8. Her early experiences as an immigrant and a cultural outsider had a deep impact on Dr. Stanton, leaving her with a commitment to social justice and community involvement that have helped shape not only her civic life, but her academic perspective. She attended Wellesley College, graduating in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts in French, and pursued postgraduate study at Columbia University, earning a Master of Arts in 1962 and a Doctor of Philosophy in French literature in 1969.

While working on her dissertation at Columbia University and deepening her background in women’s studies and the history of feminism, Dr. Stanton was acutely aware of the challenges she faced as a woman in academia. Understanding that her emerging feminist perspective could work against her in the field, she felt compelled to minimize or hide it while establishing her career. As a professor and scholar, Dr. Stanton has consistently worked to expand the boundaries and push the limits of her discipline, introducing new concepts and processes while improving opportunities for those who followed in her footsteps.

She began her academic career in 1969 as a member of the faculty at Barnard College, departing in 1976 to teach at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. In 1982, Dr. Stanton became a professor of romance languages and women’s studies at the University of Michigan, where she would remain for the next 19 years. She was named the school’s Elizabeth M. Douvan collegiate professor in 1999 and granted professor emerita status in 2001. Since 2001, she has been a distinguished professor of early modern French literature and culture, critical theory, human rights, and refugee studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where she teaches one graduate-level seminar in addition to advising master’s degree students and doctoral candidates during the thesis and dissertation process. In addition to her academic career, Dr. Stanton has served as the commissioner of the New York City Human Rights Commission since 2015 and has spent more than a decade as a member of two advisory committees and the board of Human Rights Watch.

Dr. Stanton continues to write and research, and is currently working on books about the history of slavery in the French Caribbean and French national identity under Louis XIV. She is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships in recognition of her groundbreaking theoretical work as well as her commitment to mentoring graduate students. Dr. Stanton is proud to be the former president of the Modern Language Association and the first female editor of the organization’s journal, Publications of the Modern Language Association of America. Celebrating more than five decades in academia, Dr. Stanton credits her success and longevity to an ongoing curiosity and passion for her fields and a willingness to rethink, revise, and expand the scope of her work and ideas over time. She looks forward to the publication of her tenth book and hopes to continue her work with an emphasis on balancing her academic commitments with her involvement in social and political justice projects.


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