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English professor Sanford Sternlicht named New York's 'Speaker in the Humanities'

January 09, 2009

Rob Enslin
(315) 443-3403

Rob Enslin

Sanford Sternlicht G'62, professor of English in Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences, has been appointed "Speaker in the Humanities" by the New York Council for the Humanities. As part of his appointment through 2012, Sternlicht will present a series of statewide lectures titled "The Immigrant Saga: A Memoir of the Lower East Side and Early Jewish-American Writers" and "All Things Herriot: James Herriot and His Peaceable Kingdom." Both lectures are free and open to the public, and are drawn on similarly titled books by Sternlicht.

"I am honored to join this prestigious program because of its impact on thousands of people. Speakers who lecture for the council are among the state's finest scholars and are engaged in research in a variety of disciplines," says Sternlicht, whose expertise encompasses drama; 20th-century American, British and Irish literature; and U.S. immigrant literature.

The former Navy Reserve commander says that he is proud to be involved with the New York Council for the Humanities because of its long-term commitment to cultural literacy, critical inquiry and civic participation. "This program-and the council in general-helps New Yorkers lead vibrant, intellectual lives," he says.

A prolific author and scholar, Sternlicht has published several books of original poetry, as well as written and edited more than two dozen books on literary and dramatic criticism. He also is a regular contributor to major newspapers and magazines, a sought-after public speaker and radio commentator, and an acclaimed stage director.

Sternlicht is particularly proud of his two best-sellers, "The Tenement Saga" (Terrace Books, 2004) and "All Things Herriot" (Syracuse University Press, 1995), which not only led to his humanities speaker selection, but also have kept him busy on other fronts. "The Tenement Saga," for example, has inspired numerous alumni events throughout New York state and California, a special presentation at New York City's Tenement Museum, and a popular upper-level course titled "The Immigrant Saga" (ETS 315/JSP 400). Meanwhile, "All Things Herriot," about the great British veterinarian and author James Herriot, has been the focus of multiple fellowships and lectures on both sides of the Atlantic. "I like to think that this kind of work, which engages students and the greater campus community, is what Scholarship in Action is all about," says Sternlicht, referring to Chancellor Nancy Cantor's signature vision for Syracuse University. "I love to make literature come alive."

Sternlicht joined SU in 1981, after a 30-year stint at the SUNY College at Oswego. He has since held a variety of positions, including interim director of Judaic studies (2007) and Irish Studies senior editor for Syracuse University Press (1996-2003). He also has worked as a Fulbright senior specialist and visiting professor of English at the University of Pécs in Hungary (2003). His many honors and awards include University College's Teacher of the Year award (1986) and multiple travel/lecture grants from the British Council and The English-Speaking Union of the United States.

Launched in 1983, the "Speakers in the Humanities" Program brings the best in humanities scholarship to hundreds of nonprofit organizations throughout New York state. The New York Council for the Humanities, founded in 1975, covers the cost of each speaker's honorarium and travel expenses. For a list of speakers and for more information, visit

The College of Arts and Sciences is the oldest and largest academic unit of Syracuse University. More information about The College is available at

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