Study Guide

Camille Paglia Biography

Basic Information

Name

Camille Anna Paglia

Nickname

The Antifeminist; Heir to the Throne of Susan Sontag; Heir to the Throne of Mary McCarthy; the Libertarian Finger-Wagger; Hurricane Camille

Sex

Female with every biological implication of that label. Men should act like men, and women should act like women. I don't buy the whole idea of "social construction"— that society makes us behave as men or women—I say, "Born that way."

I like to call myself a "
lesbian with a male brain" or someone with "permanently ambiguous sexual identity."

Home town

I was born in the town of Endicott, New York. We lived all around upstate New York, such as Syracuse and Oxford, where I went to school and my father was studying to become a graduate student. My parents were the real-deal Italian immigrants. Pazzo!

Work & Education

Occupation

My first teaching gig was at Bennington College in Vermont—a school made famous by its association with such characters as Bret Easton Ellis and Joan Didion. I later got the hook-up from my former professor/mentor/intellectual equal at Yale, Harold Bloom. I went to fisticuffs with other feminists all the time and had to retreat to greener pastures, doing part-time stuff at East Coast colleges.

I ended up at the College of the Arts in Philadelphia, where I teach humanities and media studies. I also try to put a fire under my students, so that they won't turn into lazy, disengaged liberals. (Check out
my department page.) I am also a regular contributor to Salon.com, where I spout on such issues as "Real Housewives," Madonna (always), and bloggers.

Education

For my undergraduate education, I attended Harpur College (BTW: I was class valedictorian). I then moved on to a little place called Yale University, where I advertised my lesbianism (no one did that back then) and did the whole feminista routine. I was also taken under the wing of that behemoth of literary criticism and unrivaled Shakespeare professor, Harold Bloom, who cultivated in me an unswerving appreciation for the canon.

Twenty years after I got my Ph.D, I published my dissertation—the groundbreaking, paradigm-shifting, 700-page doorstop known as
Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. That masterpiece sealed my destiny as one of the supreme thinkers of my generation.

Beliefs

Political views

Wow. This question cannot be contained. Let me break this down: I'm a radical Libertarian but a registered Democrat who voted for the Green Party in the 2012 elections. I have found my fellow Democrats extremely disappointing. But even worse than my lazy-minded fellow Democrats are the evil trio of Republicans: Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Dick Cheney. These clowns are madmen just frothing for war. I am very opposed to the Iraq war and think that Obama really blew it by not getting us out of there.

And the drones! Don't get me started on the surveillance. Where are our civil liberties? Our privacy? Personal freedom? It's like
1984. I think the state needs to step off when it comes to prostitution, pornography, abortion, suicide, and sodomy.

And while I'm at it, I wasn't pleased with the Obama administration—especially that nonsense known as Obamacare. Pull it together, Barack. I honestly think that the administration is a bunch of ninnies. But in the end, I don't think there's much difference between Democrats and Republicans anymore. They're both totalitarian parties.

Religious views

Look, I don't consider myself a religious person, but I do take religion seriously—especially when it comes to art. I am an atheist who loves religion. In fact, as I say in Sexual Personae: "God is man's greatest idea." That's the best sentence I ever wrote—in a sea of fabulous sentences (source).

A lot of intellectuals like to pooh-pooh religion as a belief system of mindless rubes, but that cynical attitude only reflects on those who express it. Religion is crucial to understanding Western civilization. To really, truly understand Michelangelo, Picasso,
Hemingway—even Star Wars—you have to know the Bible.

I'll tell you what rejecting religion has gotten us: a bunch of horrible contemporary paintings that have absolutely nothing to say about the deeper meanings of life and the human condition. Get over yourself. You may not find me kneeling in a chapel every Sunday, but I take religion and spirituality very seriously as an intellectual.

Activities & Interests

Likes

Pop culture
Madonna
Barbra Streisand
Elizabeth Taylor
Rock 'n' roll
Marlon Brando
Elvis Presley
Meryl Streep
Beauty
Sexuality in all of its forms

Dislikes

Whining
Feminists
Whining feminists
Anita Hill
Post-Structuralism
Academics
Surveillance
Civil rights violations
Puritanical thinking
Political correctness

Interests

Reading any book in the Western Canon
Mocking silly feminists
Wearing stilettos
Self-promotion
Doing interviews
Writing op-ed pieces
Praising religion but not going to church
Rebelling
Marauding
Drinking

Groups

The Anti-Feministas
Women Thinkers for Religion
Taylor Swift Haters
Camille Paglia and the Vamps
Porn-Loving Ladies
A Class of Her Own
Feminists for Beauty
The Beauvoirists
The Academic Tramps
The Hormonists

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