Joshua Wolf Shenk is an essayist and arts leader. He is artistic and executive director of the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at UNLV and editor-in-chief of The Believer magazine.
Josh’s books include Lincoln’s Melancholy, named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and honored with prizes from The Abraham Lincoln Institute, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and the National Mental Health Association.
Josh is also author 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, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the anthology Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression.
Josh is a longtime curator, storyteller, and founding advisor to The Moth. His story “You Can Come Back” appeared on the Moth Radio Hour which Josh helped create as a member of The Moth’s board of directors. (The show now airs on more than 475 public radio stations around the world.) The story will also appear in the Moth’s book Occasional Magic.
Josh created the Erikson Prize for Mental Health Media and the Arts in Mind series on the intersection of creative arts and psychology, co-hosted by the New School in New York City. He has has taught storytelling and literary non-fiction 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.
With Harold Holzer, he co-edited In Lincoln's Hand an anthology of original original manuscripts with original essays by the likes of Toni Morrison and Tony Kushner. 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 a fellowship in non-fiction literature at the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Josh gives lectures and keynotes on creativity, relationships, mental health, and other topics, and has appeared at The International Society for the Performing Arts, The Alliance of Artist Communities, Microsoft, the 92nd St. Y, the University of Southern California, the Central Coast Creative Economy Forum, and The Sum.
He splits his time between Las Vegas and the Silverlake neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he fathers a eight-year-old boy who, like Josh, has webbed toes.