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Bill  Deresiewicz

Bill Deresiewicz

Award-Winning Essayist & Critic


William Deresiewicz is an award-winning essayist and critic, a frequent speaker at colleges, high schools, and other venues, and the best-selling author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life. He taught English at Yale and Columbia before becoming a full-time writer in 2008. Read More >

Bill has published more than 250 essays and reviews. He has won the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, the Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and a Sydney Award; he is also a three-time National Magazine Award nominee. His work, which has appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Harper's, The Nation, The New Republic, The American Scholar, and many other publications, has been translated into 17 languages and anthologized in more than 30 college readers. He has spoken at over 90 colleges, high schools, and educational groups and has held visiting positions at Bard, Scripps, and Claremont McKenna Colleges. In November 2019, he will serve as the Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts at the University of San Diego.

Bill’s previous book is A Jane Austen Education. He is working on a book about how artists are making a living in the new economy. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

TEDx: The Best Education for All

2013 Hiett Prize Recipient Dr. William Deresiewicz

The New Age of Creativity

What Education Is For

Finding Truth In the Humanities

What You Get Out of a Liberal Arts Education

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.