She is a Virgil for all the female Dantes.- Elizabeth Janeway
One of the boldest critics [who] writes with the wisdom of the ages. -Houston A. Baker, Jr.
The wit of Dorothy Parker, the social conscience of John Kenneth Galbraith and the feminist analytical skills of Adrienne Rich. -Gloria Steinem
Catharine R. Stimpson is currently University Professor and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University, where she also teaches in the Law School. Prior to joining New York University, she served as Director of the Fellows Program at the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago and was University Professor at Rutgers University where she was also Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education. Professor Stimpson is without a doubt the leading woman public intellectual in America today. A novelist, a critic, an academic leader: her mark on the academy and on the public intellectual sphere can only be described as monumental, transcending disciplinary and other boundaries.
Professor Stimpson's career, beginning in Washington State, led her to Bryn Mawr College where she received her A.B. Magna Cum Laude. Then it was on to England for a B.A., once again with honors, from Cambridge University and an M.A. from the same institution, only to finish with a Ph.D. with distinction from Columbia University. These auspicious beginnings have, not surprisingly, led to an illustrious career. Prizes, grants, and fellowships tell only part of the story, as Catharine Stimpson went on to accumulate also twelve honorary doctorates from an impressive list of universities. A previous President of the Modern Language Association, she has chaired the New York State Council for the Humanities, the National Council for Research on Women, and the Ms. Magazine board of scholars, as well as serving as a member of the board of PBS. She is currently the Chair of the National Advisory Committee of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, and President of the Association of Graduate Schools. And this is not to speak of her service on editorial boards, advisory committees, and executive committees.
These activities have not kept Professor Stimpson from having a prolific publishing career. To a wonderful novel, Class Notes, one can add a ground-breaking selection of essays, Where the Meanings Are, as well as numerous edited volumes and over 150 monographs, essays, stories, and reviews in such prestigious locations as The New York Times Book Review, Critical Inquiry, and the Nation, to cite but three. Most striking is the visionary aspect of Professor Stimpson's career. Who would have predicted in 1974 that the journal Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, of which she was the founding editor, would still be over a quarter of a century later one of the most influential journals in the field of gender and women's studies? And who would have predicted in 1984 that the series Professor Stimpson began editing at the University of Chicago would be the leading series on women, culture, and society in our current millennium?
To read Catharine Stimpson or to listen to her is to be led into provocative and exciting areas of the mind. Her extensive introduction to Jane Kramer's volume, Whose Art Is It? is one such example. Professor Stimpson engages her readers in conversations that ultimately address not only the arts and humanities but the future of human society as well. To follow Catharine Stimpson on an intellectual path is to be led down wondrous roads full of linguistic splendor and intellectual stimulation.