Joshua Wolf Shenk is a curator, essayist, and author, most recently of Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity. His Atlantic cover stories include “What Makes Us Happy?” about the psychiatrist George Vaillant and the Harvard happiness study. He’s published in Harper’s, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Slate, GQ, The Nation, Riverteeth, and the anthology Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression (edited by Nell Casey).
His first book, Lincoln’s Melancholy, was a best book of 2005 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and won awards from The Abraham Lincoln Institute, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the National Mental Health Association. With Harold Holzer, he co-edited In Lincoln’s Hand, an anthology of original manuscripts written by the president and accompanied by new essays by John Updike, Toni Morrison, Tony Kushner, Bill Clinton, and many more.
A founding adviser to The Moth, Shenk served on the organization’s board of directors, where he played a lead role in developing The Moth Radio Hour, now on nearly 400 stations worldwide. He created and directs the Erikson Prize for Mental Health Media and the Arts in Mind conversation series on the intersection of creative arts and psychology, co-hosted by the New School in New York City. He also serves on the board of PEN Center USA.
Shenk is the executive director and writer-in-residence of the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has taught creative writing, especially literary nonfiction, at The New School, New York University, Washington College (where he was director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House), the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and The Power of Narrative Conference at Boston University.
His honors include residencies at Yaddo, MacDowell, the Blue Mountain Center, and the Norman Mailer Center; a Rosalynn Carter fellowship in mental health journalism at the Carter Center; a Japan Society Media Fellowship; and the Frank Whiting scholarship at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Josh was a 2005-06 fellow in nonfiction at the New York Foundation for the Arts.
He splits his time between Las Vegas and the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he fathers a five-year-old boy who, like Josh, has webbed toes. For more information on Joshua Wolf Shenk, please visit www.shenk.net.