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.
Gantrel's publications have appeared in French and English on both sides of the Atlantic and include essays and articles on Lamartine, Zola, the Goncourts, Proust, Marguerite Yourcenar and Michel Tournier. Her most recent publications are "Le féminin en vedette: micro-lecture de deux romans régionalistes de la Belle Époque" (Modern & Contemporary France, 2011) and "'Les Cris de Paris': images du vieux Paris chez Balzac, Flaubert and Zola" (The French Review, 2013).
Gantrel joined the Smith faculty in 1980 and regularly teaches topic courses on 19th- and 20th-century literature, and on French cinema.