William Deresiewicz is a full-time writer whose essays and commentaries about cultural issues, higher education, books, politics, and other subjects have gained international attention. His work has been translated into fifteen languages and anthologized in numerous books and college readers, and his essay “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education” has been read over one million times. He has published two books—Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets (Columbia University Press, 2005) and A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter (Penguin, 2012), which is currently under development as a television series. His third, Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, comes out in August 2014 from Free Press.
He is a contributing writer for The Nation and a contributing editor for The New Republic and The American Scholar, for which he wrote a weekly “All Points” blog on culture and society from 2011-2013. His essays and reviews have also appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Bookforum, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Yorker online, and The London Review of Books. 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 in 2012.
He is a frequent speaker on college campuses, and his essay “Solitude and Leadership” has been taught across the US military, in the corporate world, at schools of business, and at the Aspen Institute. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was an English professor at Yale University from 1998-2008, where he taught courses in modern British fiction, the Great Books, Indian fiction, and writing. He returned to college life in Fall 2013 when he served as a William F. Podlich Distinguished Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. There, he led workshops on public writing for students and faculty and visited with students and classes. In 2015 he will return to the Claremont Colleges as the Mary Routt Endowed Chair of Writing at Scripps College.
He earned his B.A. in biology-psychology (1985), M.A. in journalism (1987), and Ph.D. in English (1998) all from Columbia University.
Deresiewicz was the recipient of the Dallas Institute’s 2013 Hiett Prize in the Humanities.