English students, professors, and visiting alumni enjoyed a full day of activities at Trinity’s English festival, which welcomed Dr. Deborah Bowen, professor of English at Redeemer University College, poet and alumnus John Terpstra ’74, and Professor Emerita Virginia LaGrand.
Bowen delivered the Freshmen Lecture as well as the Association of Reformed Colleges and Universities (ARCU) lecture in the afternoon. The latter, “The Good Society: Why bother with the humanities in a time of crisis?”, inspired attendees to consider learning as a calling and education as a vocation. Bowen also led a lunch-time discussion with faculty and a few students about effective ways Christians can address current issues in the secular academy.
Bowen earned her Ph.D. from the University of Ottawa and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Oxford University. She has written numerous articles and two books, her most recent being Stories of the Middle Space: Reading the Ethics of Postmodern Realisms.
“Dr. Bowen’s lectures pushed her audience to see how Christ ‘shines in all that’s fair,’” said Alexis Warden ’14, of Pella, Iowa. “She reminded us of how studying literature plays a role in the redemption of our world.”
Poet John Terpstra read selections from his book A Church Not Made with Hands at Hope CRC in Oak Forest the evening before the festival. Dr. Mark Jones, professor of English, performed a jazz piano backdrop to the reading. Terpstra also joined Bowen in a reading and interview as part of the festival line-up of events.
Terpstra has won many regional and national writing awards in Canada, and his work and letters are now being archived by McMaster University, where he was resident artist in 2010-11.
A book launch celebration was held for Dr. Virginia LaGrand who taught English at Trinity from 1990-2008. LaGrand discussed the various aspects of her book, A Spectacular Failure: Robinson Crusoe I, II, III, which examines Defoe’s three-volume series and argues that this great success was also a “peculiar failure.”
Also attending the festival were graduates of the English program as well as emeritus faculty member and long-time chair of the department, Dr. Dan Diephouse.
Dr. Michael Vander Weele, chair of the department, said he appreciated Bowen’s thoughtful work on the importance of narrative and that he “treasured the fifth year of the Freshman Lecture, which Bruce and Mary Leep have sponsored, and the many other opportunities for students, alumni, faculty, faculty emeriti, and distinguished guests on campus to think and talk together.”