Dantzel Cenatiempo Earns PhD in French Studies 

Submitted by Michael Rich on

French graduate student Dantzel Cenatiempo successfully defended her dissertation “Sartorial Code-Switching: Vestiary Identity Performance and Female Celebrity in Paris, 1832-1939” to earn her PhD in French Studies with a certification in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies.

Dantzel grew up in Lake Stevens, Washington and attended Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah graduating with a bachelor’s in French and a minor in Studio Arts 2D (mixed media painting and drawing). Dantzel’s parents lived in Belgium and northern France for a time so she grew up speaking French with them. Dantzel says “studying French language, culture, and history in a formal setting has impacted not just my education but my overall life trajectory, learning another language is really good for the brain and it develops new aspects of your personality.”

Dantzel came to UW to earn a master’s degree in French Studies with an emphasis in Middle Eastern Studies but she says she “ended up staying for the PhD because I loved doing my master’s and didn’t want to stop, essentially.” Dantzel’s research interests center on clothing and fashion studies but are “interdisciplinary in scope, including 19th- and early 20th- century feminisms, critical race theory, and female biography.” Her dissertation is a case study of multimodal cross-dressing as a power technique in the careers of George Sand, Sarah Bernhardt, Colette, and Josephine Baker.

Dantzel pursued this research area after her “growing passion for French feminisms and French women’s literature intersected with her longstanding interest in the social dynamics of self-presentation.” Dantzel argues that “fashion studies may sound frivolous, but it is quite the opposite, it opens up a whole network of information about who we are as humans and how our cultures (and subcultures, and countercultures) operate, including economics and politics.” Studying French gave her the opportunity to make several research trips to Paris and visit a half a dozen other countries where French is spoken.

In addition to her studies in French Dantzel worked as a Pre-doctoral Lecturer, teaching undergraduate classes in French language and she also “loved working as a Teaching Assistant for many of our faculty members and learning more about their research and teaching.” Dantzel wishes to express gratitude to Denyse Delcourt, Louisa Mackenzie, and Susan Gaylard who served on her committee and were all “wonderful mentors and counselors.” In addition Dantzel wants to acknowledge Maya Smith, Rich Watts, Hedwige Meyer and Sabrina Tatta, commenting they are all “lovely, warm people and I have enjoyed working with them.”

Dantzel is going on the academic job market this year and is considering several postdoctoral positions. Dantzel reflects that she is “immensely grateful for the experience of getting a doctorate all on its own, earning a PhD while raising three kids will always be one of the major accomplishments in my life.”