Eloquent EssayistGAMBIER, Ohio (April 27, 2009)
Roger Rosenblatt, a prolific, much-admired essayist whose literary gifts also embrace fiction, drama, and memoir, will present the Commencement address at Kenyon this year. Rosenblatt will speak at Kenyon's 181st graduation ceremony, which takes place on Saturday, May 16.
In addition to presenting diplomas to more than 380 graduating seniors, the College will confer an honorary doctor of letters degree on Rosenblatt. Three retiring Kenyon faculty members will also receive honorary degrees.
Rosenblatt, whose career has included stints as the literary editor and a columnist for the New Republic, as well as a columnist for the Washington Post, is perhaps best known for his television essays on the PBS NewsHour program. For twenty-three years, starting in 1980, he offered eloquent on-air musings on topics ranging from the magic of music on a summer evening to the subtle power conveyed by a photograph of Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon. The television essays earned both a Peabody and an Emmy award.
His essays for Time magazine, where he was an editor-at-large, won two George Polk Awards. His work has also appeared the New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, and Esquire.
"Roger Rosenblatt has been one of America's most distinguished writers and essayists for four decades," said David Lynn, editor of the Kenyon Review. "His essays are noted for their wit and unexpected angles of perspective, and he is also an exceptional novelist and playwright."
Rosenblatt is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Rules for Aging: A Wry and Witty Guide to Life; three collections of essays; and Children of War, which won the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize. He has published two novels, Lapham Rising and Beet, and written six off-Broadway plays. His comic one-person show, Free Speech in America, was named one of the ten best plays of 1991 by the New York Times.
A 1962 graduate of New York University, Rosenblatt earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English and American literature at Harvard University. He has taught at a number of institutions, and currently is the Distinguished Professor of English and Writing at Stony Brook University.
The retiring faculty members to be honored at the commencement ceremony are Michael Evans, professor of history and humanities; Linda Smolak, the Samuel B. Cummings Jr. Professor of Psychology; and Perry Lentz, the Charles P. McIlvaine Professor English. Lentz will deliver the address at the Baccalaureate ceremony on Friday, May 15.