NEH Fellow

Through our National Endowment Challenge Grant, we are able to host one National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow every year who stays at Bard for one month. Duriing their stay, the NEH/HAC fellow hosts a series of lectures and other events at Bard College. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed on this webpage do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

NEH Fellow

William Deresiewicz

2016 National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow

William Deresiewicz

William Deresiewicz: Author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life (Free Press, 2014). A frequent speaker on college campuses, Bill taught English at Yale from 1998-2008. He is a Contributing Writer for The Nation and a Contributing Editor for The American Scholar. His work has also appeared in The New York TimesThe Atlantic, Harper's, and elsewhere. He was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing of the National Book Critics Circle (2012), and the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture's Hiett Prize in the Humanities (2013).

Books & Articles

  • Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life
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    A groundbreaking manifesto for people searching for the kind of insight on leading, thinking, and living that elite schools should be—but aren’t—providing. As a Yale professor, Bill Deresiewicz saw something deeply troubling. His students were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively, and how to find a sense of purpose. Excellent Sheep takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counselors who demand perfect grades and continues into college. As schools shift focus from the liberal arts to narrowly "practical" subjects like economics and computer science, students are losing the ability to think for themselves.


  • Solitude and Leadership
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    This lecture was delivered to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009. The full transcript appeared in the American Scholar, Spring 2010. To read the full text, click below.
     

  • The Disadvantages of an Elite Education
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    Our best universities have forgotten that the reason they exist is to make minds, not careers. This article appeared in the American Scholar, Summer 2008. Click below to read the full article.
     

Events

  • Writing Workshop
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    The Program in Written Arts and the Hannah Arendt Center have partnered to offer a short-term, limited-capacity writing workshop with National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow William Deresiewicz. This not-for-credit Fall 2016 workshop will explore "public writing" (as opposed to academic writing) and the form of the op-ed.  Meetings will be held in the conference room of the Hannah Arendt Center from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the following three Wednesdays: October 19,  November 2, November 9. Further individual meetings can be arranged. Open to approved student applicants only.

  • Thursday, October 21
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    5:15pm, Olin Hall. Keynote speech of the Hannah Arendt Center’s fall conference, “REAL TALK: Difficult Questions About Race, Sex, and Religion” 




     

  • Tough Talk
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    Mon. November 7, 5:30 pm – 7 pm, RKC Rm 103: William will discuss the topics of a liberal education, the liberal elite, and the perpetuation of a class system based in meritocracy. Specifically we will consider the questions of what does our system of elite education do to the people who go through it, and in thinking about our current political climate what does it do to our nation? Are we exacerbating inequality, retarding social mobility, and perpetuating privilege? As students who go to an elite college are we becoming a part of an elite that is as isolated from the very society we want to lead?