Professor Sanders is the author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including novels and collections of short stories and personal essays. His writing examines the human place in nature, the character of community, the relation between culture and geography, and the impact of science on our lives.
Dr. Sanders received a B.A. from Brown in 1967 (English) and a Ph.D. from Cambridge in 1971 (English). He joined I.U. in 1971, and became a Distinguished Professor in 1996. In 1992, he received the Frederick Bachman Lieber Award for Distinguished Teaching; in 1995, he received the Distinguished Faculty Award from the COAS Alumni Association; and in 1998 he won the Students' Choice Teaching Award. He holds honorary degrees from Otterbein College, Unity College, and Berea College.
Dr. Sanders has been granted fellowships in support of his writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Indiana Arts Commission, the Lilly Endowment, and the Guggenheim Foundation. His book The Paradise of Bombs won the Associated Writing programs Award in Creative Nonfiction in 1987; Staying Put won the Ohioana Book Award in 1994; and Writing from the Center won the Great Lakes Book Award in 1996. For his collected work in nonfiction, he was honored in 1995 with a Lannan Literary Award. His most recent books are The Force of Spirit (2000) and A Private History of Awe (2006).
Sanders received the IU Bicentennial Medal in September 2020 in recognition of his distinguished contributions to Indiana University.