William Deresiewicz to discuss higher education in Kritikos lecture

William Deresiewicz
William Deresiewicz

Cultural critic William Deresiewicz will share some of his thoughts on higher education in America today in two lectures as the Oregon Humanities Center's Kritikos Professor.

In his campus lecture, “What is College For? A Defense of the Liberal Arts,” Deresiewicz will discuss the meaning and value of a liberal arts education and its relevance in today’s world. It will take place Wednesday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Room 156 Straub Hall and will be followed by a book sale and signing.

His Portland lecture, “Education in a Neoliberal Age,” will be on Thursday, May 14, at 7:30 p.m. at the UO in Portland, 70 NW Couch St. Both talks are free and open to the public. 

Deresiewicz earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and psychology, a master’s in journalism and a doctorate in English all from Columbia University. He taught at Columbia as a graduate instructor for five years and was a professor of English at Yale for 10 years. He left academia in 2008 to become a full-time writer.

Deresiewicz is the author of two books: “A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things that Really Matter” and “Excellent Sheep: The Mis-education of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life.” In the summer of 2008, Deresiewicz published an essay in The American Scholar titled “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education” that immediately went viral. It has now received more than 1 million views online.

In 2009 he delivered a speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that was also later published in The American Scholar, “Solitude and Leadership,” that also went viral. He is a contributing writer for The Nation and a contributing editor for The New Republic. His writings span such topics as books, higher education, culture and politics. 

For information, see the Oregon Humanities Center website, email ohc@uoregon.edu or call 541-346-3934.