The Death of the Artist : How Creators Are Struggling to Survive in the Age of Billionaires and Big Tech

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Author: William Deresiewicz
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Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
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Publication Date: 2021
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William Deresiewicz Biography

William Deresiewicz ( də-REZ-ə-wits; born 1964) is an American author, essayist, and literary critic, who taught English at Yale University from 1998 to 2008. He is the author of A Jane Austen Education (2011), Excellent Sheep (2014), and The Death of the Artist (2020). His criticism directed at a popular audience has appeared in The Nation, The American Scholar, The New Republic, The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Harper's.

Early life and education

Deresiewicz was born in 1964 in Englewood, New Jersey. His father, Herbert Deresiewicz, emigrated from Czechoslovakia and was a professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science. He grew up in a Jewish home and attended a yeshiva high school. He has described himself as being "thrown out" of the high school and has imagined that he might have been charged with "gross insubordination and incipient atheism".Deresiewicz received his B.A. in biology and psychology (1985), his master's in journalism (1987), and Ph.D. in English (1998) from Columbia University.


In 1998, Deresiewicz joined the faculty of Yale University. He taught courses in modern British fiction, Great Books, Indian fiction, and writing, among other areas. He left academia in 2008 after being denied tenure to become a full-time writer. In 2012, he was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing of the National Book Critics Circle.His All Points blog appeared on the American Scholar website from March 2011 to September 2013.


A Jane Austen Education

In this memoir of a sort, Deresiewicz admits that he was initially resistant to reading 19th-century British fiction. Soon, though, he discovered that Austen’s novels are valuable tools in the journey towards becoming an adult. Deresiewicz juxtaposes his reading of Jane Austen with insight into his own life. For example, the reader learns about his controlling father, a series of girlfriends that come and go, and the struggles of being raised in a religious household.

"The Disadvantages of an Elite Education" and Excellent Sheep

In the summer of 2008, Deresiewicz published a controversial essay for The American Scholar titled "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education." In it, he criticizes the Ivy League and other elite colleges and universities for supposedly coddling their students and discouraging independent thought. He claims that elite institutions produce students who are unable to communicate with people who don't have the same backgrounds as themselves, noting as the first example his own inability to talk to his plumber. Deresiewicz then uses Al Gore and John Kerry, graduates of Harvard and Yale (respectively), as examples of politicians who are out of touch with the lives of most Americans.The article became the groundwork for Deresiewicz's book Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life (2014). This work had a m ... Read full biography

Authors: William Deresiewicz
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
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ISBN13: 9781250125521
ISBN10: 1250125529
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Publication date: July 1, 2020
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