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Sharistanian, Janet

Sharistanian, PhD
Year Inducted: 
Janet Sharistanian
  • Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Program from its creation until 1976 and co-taught first introductory course
  • Director of KU’s Research Institute on Women
  • Instrumental in securing a $100,000 grant to support the 1980 Summer Research Institute on Women’s Public Lives
  • Acclaimed for her rigorous and innovative feminist literary criticism
  • Named Outstanding Teacher of the Year by the Commission on the Status of Women

Janet Sharistanian, Associate Professor of English at the University of Kansas, is a woman of boundless energy and intelligence.  Her contributions to education and the study of the achievements of women are recognized around the world.

Dr. Sharistanian’s achievements begin at Simmons College, where she graduated in 1965 with highest honors in English and Art History.  She received her Ph.D. in 1975 from Brown University.  Her dissertation was entitled “Powerless Victims in the Poetry of Randall Jarrell.”  In 1971, she began her teaching career at the English Department at the University of Kansas, where she still currently is as an Associate Professor.

During her tenure at KU, Dr. Sharistanian has played a major role in the development of the Women’s Studies Program.  She volunteered in 1972 to act as a coordinator for courses on women; those courses soon became the core of the Women’s Studies Program.  She served as the Coordinator of the Women’s Studies Program until 1976 and is widely credited for its initial success both on the local and national level.  In addition, she has served as the Director of KU’s Research Institute on Women and was instrumental in securing a $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to support the 1980 Summer Research Institute on Women’s Public Lives.

Dr. Sharistanian spent 1983-1984 at the University of Southern California as a Visiting Fellow and the Director of the Theme Year in Gender and Scholarship.  In conjunction with her year in California, she organized faculty research seminars and lecture series for which she received acclaim.  Her publications are many and on the cutting edge of the fields of English Literature and Women’s Studies.  She has been active on a wide variety of University committees and boards. 

As a scholar she is known as both rigorous and innovative in feminist literary criticism.  One former student noted, “The work I have done with her has been the most intellectually stimulating of my graduate career…More than anyone else on campus, she has taken my work seriously.  She has been willing to spend time exploring ideas with me, and she has taught me the discipline and precision necessary for excellence in the field of Women’s Studies as in other fields.”  In 1974, Dr. Sharistanian was named Outstanding Teacher by the Commission on the Status of Women.  Colleagues have quoted: “In a general sense, she represents the excellence of a good scholar and fine teacher --- what we hope for in all faculty.  Because of her commitment and her talents and her indefatigable energy, she brought our Women’s Studies Program into being, she demonstrated the excellence of research on women to the Ford Foundation and to a fine academic press, and she has herself contributed to our understanding of women’s lives.”

Or, as one other colleague declared, “She is, quite simply, one of the most energetic forces for clear thinking and for renewal on our campus.”               

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