Duke professor elected to national academy

Apr. 24, 2013 @ 06:03 PM

Duke literature professor Frank Lentricchia has been elected to the American Academy of Arts And Sciences.

Lentricchia, a novelist and literary critic, is the Katherine Everett Gilbert Professor of Literature at Duke. He is one of 198 new members of the academy, which honors some of the world’s most accomplished leaders in academia, business, public affairs, science, the humanities and the arts.

"This is very cool," said Lentricchia, who taught his final course earlier this week and retires officially at the end of June. "It's utterly, utterly unexpected. I never think about honors like this, so it's a great surprise."

Lentricchia will join 44 other Duke scholars previously elected to the academy. David Rubenstein, a Duke graduate and current university trustee, was elected as well. All new members will be inducted Oct. 12 at the academy headquarters in Cambridge, Mass.

Lentricchia holds two graduate degrees from Duke and joined its faculty in 1984. He has taught poetry, film, literature and fiction courses. He spent many years as a literary critic and theorist before shifting into a new career as a novelist, and he'll continue that writing in retirement.

His ninth novel, "The Accidental Pallbearer", came out in January and he has already finished its sequel, "The Dog Killer of Utica."

"Writing fiction is an unparalleled adventure, in my experience," he said.

One of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts and education.