Born in Endicott, New York, Paglia is a social critic, author and avowed feminist. She is University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
Paglia is an intellectual of many apparent contradictions: a classicist who champions art both high and low, with a Hobbesian view that human nature is inherently dangerous, and yet who also celebrates dionysian revelry in the wilder, darker sides of human sexuality.
Paglia came to attention with the publication of her first book, Sexual Personae (1990), when she also began writing about popular culture and feminism in mainstream newspapers and magazines. In early 1991, she was the subject of a New York magazine cover story, "Woman Warrior". She reached the height of her fame in 1992 with the publication of Sex, Art and American Culture, which was much read on college campuses.
Her next book, Vamps and Tramps (1994), was a collection of short pieces along and new material such as a theoretical manifesto about sex, "No Law in the Arena". In 1998 she published a short volume about Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" in the British Film Institute Film Classics series.
She is currently writing a third essay collection for Vintage Books, and in 2005 Pantheon Books published her study of poetry, entitled Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World's Best Poems and became an immediate national bestseller. The paperback was just released in 2006 by Vintage Books.
Paglia was a columnist for Salon.com for six years from its first issue and is now a contributing editor at Interview magazine. She continues to write articles and reviews for media and scholarly journals, such as her long article, "Cults and Cosmic Consciousness: Religious Vision in the American 1960s", published in the classics and humanities journal Arion in Winter 2003.