Joanna Stalnaker

Joanna Stalnaker

Research Interests 

Enlightenment literature, philosophy and science; eighteenth-century salon culture; women writers; theater; French Revolution

Joanna Stalnaker has been teaching at Columbia since 2002. She received her doctorate, with honors, at NYU that same year, under the guidance of Anne Deneys-Tunney, Michel Beaujour and Richard Sieburth. She did her undergraduate studies at Swarthmore, where her son Léon is now a student.

Stalnaker’s first book, The Unfinished Enlightenment: Description in the Age of the Encyclopedia (Cornell 2010), won the Kenshur Prize from the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University. She is now finishing a new book, The Rest Is Silence: Last Works of a Few Philosophes (and One Salonnière-Philosophe) Facing Death, to be published by Yale in the Walpole Series. Stalnaker has published articles and chapters in venues such as Critique, Representations, Journal of the History of Ideas, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Literary Theory, A History of Modern French Literature (Princeton) and Diderot Studies.

At Columbia, Stalnaker received a Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award in 2014. For the past two decades, she has dedicated herself to the teaching of Literature Humanities, the first-year course in the Core Curriculum. She also chaired the course from 2018-21, during a period of significant upheaval. As chair, she focused on making modifications to pedagogy and syllabus in keeping with a rapidly changing world, while also upholding the tradition and spirit of the Core. Stalnaker gained a broad view of the university by serving on the Provost’s Tenure Review Advisory Board from 2020-23, and on the advisory boards of the Maison Française and Society of Fellows. She is committed to mentoring graduate students, both within the French Department and across the Humanities. Her students have gone on to teach at places like Williams, Scripps, Berkeley and Princeton, or have pursued careers in high school teaching, study abroad, academic publishing and administration.

Outside Columbia, Stalnaker has held a number of invited teaching positions, at Princeton, Université de Genève, Bryn Mawr’s Institut d’études françaises d’Avignon and Dartmouth’s Institute of French Cultural Studies. She serves on the editorial boards of Romanic Review and French Forum, and as consultative editor for Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment.

Stalnaker’s current interests include the brain, and eighteenth-century women.