2021 KEYNOTE TALK

“Weekly Deadlines: A Personal History of The Washington Post Book World

Michael Dirda

Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Dirda recalls some of the books, people, and events in his 43 years as an editor and literary journalist. All of his stories are true––more or less.

Michael Dirda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The Washington Post Book World, where he has worked since 1978, first as an editor and then as a writer. His weekly reviews and essays now appear each Thursday in the paper's Style section. Dirda is the author of the memoir An Open Book: Coming of Age in the Heartland (2003) and of five collections of essays––Readings: Essays and Literary Entertainments (2000), Bound to Please (2005), Book by Book: Notes on Reading and Life (2005), Classics for Pleasure (2007), and Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living With Books (2015)––as well as  the Edgar Award-winning On Conan Doyle; or The Whole Art of Storytelling (2011). He is currently finishing a study of late Victorian and early twentieth-century popular fiction in Britain, tentatively titled "The Great Age of Storytelling." 

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2021 Special Guest
Walton Muyumba 
Michael Dirda was born in the working-class steel town of Lorain, Ohio, graduated with highest honors in English from Oberlin College, and received an MA and PhD in Comparative Literature from Cornell University (with a focus on medieval studies and European romanticism).  His dissertation was on the French writer Stendhal. Long ago, he taught English in Marseille on a Fulbright grant and, in more recent years, has been a visiting professor at the University of Central Florida, McDaniel College, Middlebury's Bread Loaf School of English, and the University of Maryland. He has also been a speaker at many colleges, book festivals, and scholarly conventions, as well as a contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Wall Street Journal, and other periodicals. These days, he writes most frequently about neglected classics, genre fiction, literary scholarship, and  intellectual history.
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2021 Special Guest
Walton Muyumba 
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2021 Honoree
John Edgar Wideman