Creative Writing

Richard Powers Joins the English Faculty

The novelist Richard Powers will be joining the faculty of the English Department this Fall as the Phil and Penny Knight Professor of Creative Writing. A long-time resident of Illinois, Powers previously held the Swanlund Endowed Chair at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Having twice served as the Stein Visiting Writer in Creative Writing, he will join many friends here at Stanford.

Powers is the author of ten novels, including The Echo Maker, which won the National Book Award in 2006. His novels are known for their probing explorations of the biggest questions facing contemporary society, especially as they involve the human impacts of science and technology. According to Salon, Powers is “our preeminent novelist of ideas.”

“The relationship between the artistic imagination and the real world of physical and material responsibility has always been of interest to me,” said Powers in an interview for The Paris Review. “In the cauldron of unresolved and unresolvable disputes between people, what recourse does the individual have? How best to survive this? Does art do anything?” Powers’s work fronts these intellectual questions with an unflinching attention to the drama of human consciousness and to the depth of our emotional responses to the world. His new novel, Orfeo, will be published in January 2014.

Powers is also a dedicated teacher of creative writing and English. This year Professor Powers’s teaching will include an English Department senior seminar, “Shaped for Story,” which combines approaches from neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and literary studies to explore the nature of our story-telling impulse. “Richard Powers’s dual interests in literature and the sciences fit perfectly with Stanford’s interdisciplinary culture,” according to department chair Gavin Jones.  “He finds the voice of the human in the hardest scientific questions. We’re very fortunate to have him here.”

For more information about Professor Richard Powers, we suggest the following: 

Margaret Atwood's review of Echo Maker in The New York Review of Books.
An interview with Richard Powers featured in The Paris Review.