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For over a decade Paglia was the partner of artist Alison Maddex. Clive James noted that Paglia tends to focus on American works as it moves from Shakespeare forward through time with Yeats following Coleridge as the last European discussed but emphasized her range of sympathy and her ability to juxtapose and unite distinct art forms in her analysis.
She is known as a critic of American feminism and is also strongly critical of the influence of French writers such as Jacques Lacan Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. Paglia has celebrated Madonna and taken radical libertarian positions on controversial social issues such as abortion homosexuality and drug use. She wrote Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990) a best-selling work of literary criticism among other books and essays.