Joanna Stalnaker

Joanna Stalnaker

Research Interests
Enlightenment literature and philosophy; literary forms of philosophical and scientific knowledge; death and last works; women writers and salon culture.

Joanna Stalnaker works on Enlightenment literature and philosophy. She is especially interested in the ways experimental literary forms shaped philosophical ideas and the transmission of knowledge. Her recent work explores how our view of the Enlightenment and philosophy itself changes when we pay closer attention to women writers.

Stalnaker’s first book, The Unfinished Enlightenment: Description in the Age of the Encyclopedia (Cornell, 2010), was awarded the Kenshur Prize from the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University. Her new book, The Rest Is Silence: Enlightenment Philosophers Facing Death, will be published by Yale in the Walpole Series. She also co-edited, with Nicholas Cronk, a special volume of the Romanic Review on eighteenth-century authorship. Her articles have appeared in Representations, Critique, Journal of the History of Ideas, Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory and A History of Modern French Literature (Princeton), among other venues.

Stalnaker has advised dissertations on nuns and convents on the French Revolutionary stage, Rousseau’s gender politics read through the lens of Monique Wittig, material and literary forms of knowledge collection from Rousseau to Sebald, and more. Some of her advisees have gone on to teach at Williams, Scripps, Princeton, Berkeley and Boston College, while others have pursued careers in high school teaching, study abroad administration, publishing and translation.

Stalnaker was a recipient of the Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award in 2014. She chaired Literature Humanities from 2018-21 and has taught the course for the past two decades.

Stalnaker’s current project is a short book on Madame du Deffand as the most radical of the Enlightenment philosophers.