Born and educated in France, Martine Gantrel graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1979 and earned her doctoral degree in French literature from the Sorbonne University in 1987.
Gantrel's area of specialization is in literary and cultural studies of 19th- and 20th-century France, in particular the Novel as a genre from the Romantic period to the Belle Époque; the relationship of literature to history; cultural and literary sub-genres (French gastronomy, the Regionalist novel, Les Cris de Paris, the representation of female domestic servants); and French cinema. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Les Cahiers naturalistes, L'Esprit créateur, La Revue d'Histoire Littéraire de la France, Romantisme, Ninteenth-Century French Studies and The French Review. She is currently at work on a book on the poetics of sound in Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu.
Gantrel joined the Smith faculty in 1980 and regularly teaches topic courses on 19th- and 20th-century French literature, and French cinema. She will be directing the Smith in Paris program in spring 2016.