Chestertown, MD, May 10, 2006 — Joshua Wolf Shenk, essayist and author of Lincoln's Melancholy, has been appointed Director of Washington College's Rose O'Neill Literary House. Shenk succeeds novelist Benjamin Anastas, who served as interim director during the 2005-2006 academic year. Shenk, who assumes his post on July 1, will also serve as a creative writing instructor at the college well known for its Sophie Kerr Prize and literary culture.
Shenk is a New York-based writer and teacher who has published essays and reviews in The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, The New York Times, GQ, among many other publications, as well as in a national bestselling anthology, Unholy Ghost.His first book, Lincoln's Melancholy,was published by Houghton Mifflin last fall and was named one of the best books of 2005 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, andThe Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Since 1999, Shenk has served on the writing faculty at the New School University and during 2003 at New York University. He has also held editorial and correspondent positions at U.S. News & World Report, The Economist, The Washington Monthly,and The New Republic. He has been recognized with fellowships at numerous writers' colonies and arts organizations including the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Blue Mountain Center, Yaddo, and MacDowell, and was a Scholar at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and a Rosalynn Carter Fellow in Mental Health Journalism at the Carter Center. Shenk graduated in 1994 with a degree in history and literature from Harvard College.
"I'm excited for this job because it combines three things that I love," Shenk said in accepting the position. "I love to write—not for the daily grind of it, but for the moments of insight and clarity that sometimes come. I love the company of fellow writers—and, especially, how we can support and encourage one another. And, finally, I love to create and enjoy environments that value the beauty of language, the vulnerability of honest expression, and the search for life's deep, abiding truths."
Since 1968, Washington College has awarded the Sophie Kerr Prize, the largest literary prize in the world exclusively for undergraduates. In its 39 years the Prize has ranged in value from $9,000 to as high as $65,000. The Kerr endowment has also brought a parade of distinguished writers to the Chestertown, Maryland, campus, including Toni Morrison, Edward Albee, James Dickey, John Barth and Joyce Carol Oates. The Rose O'Neill Literary House is the co-curricular center of literary activity at Washington College, as well as the home of the Writers Union, a large and thriving club of student writers.
"I am extremely pleased that Mr. Shenk has agreed to lead the Rose O'Neill Literary House program," said Joachim Scholz, provost and dean of the college. "A distinguished writer with prestigious publications in history and journalism as well as literature, he will bring a wealth of talent to the Literary House and to the campus as a whole."