Orange Alert

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, New Yorker staff writer Louis Menand to lecture at SU Oct. 7

"Metaphysical Club" author is also renowned scholar, book critic, and essayist

Sept. 16, 2010, by Donna Adamo

Louis Menand, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and New Yorker staff writer, will present “A Man is Shot: The Content of a Cinematic Technique,” Thursday, Oct. 7, in the Joyce Hergenhan Auditoriumin in Newhouse 3. The lecture is sponsored by the Dikaia Foundation’s Stephen Crane Annual Lecture Series, The College of Arts and Science’s English Department and the Goldring Arts Journalism Program based at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Menand’s lecture is free and starts at 7:30 p.m.

Menand, who was born in Syracuse and raised near Boston, is widely recognized as a gifted writer, book critic, modern scholar and essayist of American studies. Menand is the author of four books and has written hundreds of reviews and essays. His most famous work “The Metaphysical Club” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001), a detailed history of American intellectual and philosophical life in the 19th and 20th centuries, received a Pulitzer Prize in history in 2002.

“I thought he’d be the perfect person for the job,” says David Yaffe, assistant professor of English at Syracuse University who went to graduate school to study with Menand. “From the standpoint of the University, I couldn’t think of anybody better than Luke Menand. He embodies the University’s initiative, spurred by Chancellor Nancy Cantor, for Scholarship in Action. Luke does that in an extremely organic way. Often scholars put on a scholar hat when they write for scholars and a public hat when they write for the public. Luke doesn’t. He writes the same way whenever he writes, whoever he’s writing for.”

Menand graduated from Pomona College before attending Harvard Law School for one year (1973-1974). It was during his first year of law school at Harvard when he realized he didn’t “have the personality” to be a lawyer because he “didn’t like to argue.” He transferred to Columbia University, where he earned a Ph.D. in English. He taught at Princeton University and the City University of New York before being named the Robert M. and Anne T. Bass Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. Menand once told a Harvard Magazine reporter he doesn’t revise his writings, preferring instead to write “one draft, very deliberately.”

Of Menand’s Pulitzer Prize-winning talents, Yaffe says, “His writing is so engaging and meets the standards of great writing. You absolutely have to read one sentence to the next. It is a rare gift. He’s a successful writer on his own, but it so happens he’s also an academic.” Yaffe adds, “Luke covers a lot of range and has written about everything from ‘Lord of the Rings’ to Stephen Pinker.”

Menand’s lecture is part of the Stephen Crane Annual Lecture Series, which is sponsored by the Dikaia Foundation. The series was established to honor one of SU’s most noteworthy alumni, Stephen Crane. Crane, who only lived to age 29, had an enormous impact on the literary world and is best known for his 1891 Civil War novel, “The Red Badge of Courage.” The annual lecture series addresses various aspects of American literature, with lectures given by literary scholars of high stature—an appropriate tribute to Crane.

Media Contact

Donna Adamo