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Bill  Deresiewicz

Bill Deresiewicz

Award-Winning Essayist & Critic

Biography

William Deresiewicz is an award-winning essayist and critic, a frequent college speaker, and the best-selling author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. He was a professor of English at Yale for ten years and a graduate instructor at Columbia for five. His essay “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education” has been viewed over one million times online. “Solitude and Leadership,” an address at West Point, has been taught across the military and corporate worlds. Read More >

Deresiewicz is a Contributing Writer for The Nation and a Contributing Editor for The American Scholar, for which he wrote the All Points blog on culture and society from 2011-2013. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New Republic, Slate, Bookforum, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Yorker online, and The London Review of Books. His previous book is A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter (2011).

Deresiewicz received the 2013 Hiett Prize in the Humanities from The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. He was nominated for National Magazine Awards in 2008, 2009, and 2011 and won the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona A. Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing for 2012, having been a finalist on three previous occasions. David Brooks gave one of his essays a “Sydney” award for magazine writing in 2010. Deresiewicz’s work, which has been translated into at least 15 languages, has been anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011 and The Digital Divide: Writings For and Against Facebook, YouTube, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking. It has also been reprinted in The Utne Reader, Lapham's Quarterly, and 25 college readers.

Deresiewicz has spoken at over 35 colleges, high schools, and educational groups. In 2013, he served as a William F. Podlich Distinguished Fellow at Claremont McKenna. In 2015, he occupied the Mary Routt Endowed Chair of Writing at Scripps. In 2016, he will serve as an NEH-Hannah Arendt Center Visiting Distinguished Lecturer at Bard.

As a professor, Deresiewicz taught courses in modern British fiction, the Great Books, Indian fiction, and writing. He is the author of Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets (2004) and of academic articles on Austen, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Joseph Conrad. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia, where he had also gone to college and earned three Master’s degrees, including one in journalism. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

2013 Hiett Prize Recipient Dr. Willian Deresiewicz

Speech Topics

Higher Education: Crisis & Purpose

Building on his controversial and inspirational best-seller, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, Deresiewicz talks about the true purpose of college. What are the liberal arts, and what are they supposed to do for you? What gets lost when college is understood in exclusively practical terms? What are the forces that are acting on students and institutions today, and how can they best be resisted?

Creativity in the New Century

Creativity is all the rage these days. Everybody wants to be creative, and every company wants creative people on its team. As business and the arts draw closer together, how are they changing each other? Expanding on his viral assay for the Atlantic, "The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur," Deresiewicz talks about our changing understanding and practice of creative work and the creative life.

Leadership & the Inner Life

Deresiewicz’s 2009 address at West Point, "Solitude and Leadership," has become a modern classic of leadership literature, taught across the military and the business worlds. What does leadership really mean? What alternative models of leadership may be available? In today’s hyperactive and compulsively interconnected world, why is the inner life more important than ever for leaders to cultivate, and how can they go about doing so?

What Jane Austen Has To Teach Us

Deresiewicz is the author of A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. “I finished the book with two strong impulses," Michelle Wiener said in her Associated Press review, "one, to immediately reread everything Jane Austen wrote, with Deresiewicz's book at my side, and two, to invite Deresiewicz over for more Austen talk.” Deresiewicz shares the wisdom of this timeless author.