Birkerts named program director


Wednesday, February 6
BENNINGTON — A national search to find the next director of one of Bennington College's most prominent programs ended up producing a familiar name.

Sven Birkerts, an author, literary critic and longtime writing faculty member at the college, was named as the director of the college's low-residency graduate writing program on Tuesday, according to a release from the college.

Birkerts, 56, has been serving as the program's interim director since September, following the death of Liam Rector, the program's founder and director since 1994.

Under Rector's direction, the program received national recognition and attracted acclaimed writers to serve as faculty and writers in residence, such as former United States Poet Laureate Donald Hall.

In September, one of the program's students, Amanda Auchter, was named as one of 12 finalists for the Ruth Lily Poetry Fellowship, one of the nation's top poetry awards.

Bennington College President Elizabeth Coleman called the Rector's death, "a most profound loss," but was confident that Birkerts would carry on the program's legacy.

"(Birkerts) has been a member of the core faculty from the outset," she said in a statement. "Given his distinguished accomplishments as a writer, coupled with the depth of his experience and commitment to the program, I can think of no one more capable than (Birkerts) to lead the writing seminars."

Birkerts, author of six books, is best known for, "The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age." The book, published in 1995, looks at the decline of language and sustained critical thought with the introduction of the Internet and other technology, according to a book review.

His other works include, "An Artificial Wilderness: Essays on 20th Century Literature," "The Electric Life: Essays on Modern Poetry," "American Energies: Essays on Fiction," "Readings," and "My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time."

Birkerts also edits, "Agni," a literary journal at Boston University and edited, "Tolstoy's Dictaphone: Writers and the Must," "Writing Well" and "The Evolving Canon."

He has also taught at Harvard University, Emerson College and Amherst College, in Massachusetts.


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