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Michael Gorra

Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language & Literature

Michael Gorra


Seelye Hall 401


Michael Gorra came to Smith in 1985, and teaches classes on the 19th- and 20th-century novel.  He is now working on The Storytellers, a comparative study of 19th-century short fiction, from Goethe to Chekhov and all points in between.

His most recent books are The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War (2020), a New York Times Book Review Notable Book, and Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of An American Masterpiece (2012), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography.  He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has received a Guggenheim fellowship, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, including a Public Scholar Award, and the Nona Balakian Citation from the National Book Critics Circle award for his work as a reviewer.

He is a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and has written as well for the TLSThe Atlantic, and The New York Times Book Review, among others.  His travel essays have twice been included in the annual volumes of Best American Travel Writing. In 2014 he was a judge for the National Book Award in fiction.  

Gorra’s earlier books are The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany (2004); After Empire: Scott, Naipaul, Rushdie (1997); and The English Novel at Mid-Century (1990). As editor he has put together volumes of stories by Joseph Conrad and Henry James for Penguin, along with the Norton Critical Editions of James’ Portrait of a Lady, and Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury.  He has edited Elizabeth Spencer, Novels and Stories, for the Library of America.



Office Hours

Fall 2023

Wednesday 2:30-4:00 p.m.
and by appointment


Ph.D., Stanford University
A.B., Amherst College

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks