William H. Gass

William H. Gass, PhD, is a world-renowned author and literary critic. He was the founder (in 1990) and first director of the university’s International Writers Center in Arts & Sciences — now known as The Center for the Humanities. Gass received an honorary doctor of humanities degree in 2005.


He is the author of “Omensetter’s Luck” (1966), “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country and Other Stories” (1968), “Willie Master’s Lonesome Wife” (1968), “Fiction and the Figures of Life” (1971), “On Being Blue” (1976), “The World Within the Word” (1978), “Habitations of the Word: Essays” (1985), “The Tunnel” (1995), “Finding a Form” (1996), “Cartesian Sonata” (1998), “Reading Rilke” (1999) and “Tests of Time” (2003).

He has won several major literary awards during his career, including the National Book Critics Circle Award an unprecedented three times: in 1985 for “Habitations of the Word”; in 1996 for “Finding a Form”; and in 2003 for “Tests of Time.”

He also won the 1997 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2000 PEN/Nabokov Award, and the PEN/Nabokov Lifetime Achievement Award, which he has called his “most prized prize.”

Gass, who retired from teaching in 1999, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1982 and to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983. He received an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction in 1975 and Medal of Merit for Fiction in 1979.