Professor of English, Department Chair
on faculty since 2008
Studying literature enables us to celebrate as well as grapple with the complexities of our inner and social lives. Reading with full attention to a created world or a lived moment, in a posture of hospitality and hope, with a longing for truth and justice, can help us form intentional habits that enrich our own lives and contribute to communal flourishing. Writing stories, poems, and arguments helps us discover and share what might otherwise remain dim or untold in the world.
Dr. Karen Dieleman is fascinated by the 19th century, because of the upheaval in beliefs and practices due to new ways of reading the Bible, new scientific theories, developments in technology, urban conglomeration, and new ideas about gender, race, and labor that took place then. “A lot of questions raised in the 19th century linger on today, though they’ve taken new dimensions,” she said.
“I’m particularly interested in how writers engage those questions through the art of literature, sometimes even creating the social and religious questions that get asked.”
What drew her to Trinity:
Dieleman’s job interview at Trinity resembled a Visit Day in some ways. “I met students and faculty, had a campus tour, attended chapel, shared a meal, and asked and answered questions at a lot of small-group meetings. Everyone seemed fully engaged in the community, with me as a visitor, and with each other. So, given the opportunity, I joined.”
She researches 19th century British poetry within its cultural contexts, particularly religion and evolutionary thought. “I’m interested in how poetry thinks, in its form as well as its subject. Poetry demands disciplined reading, because every detail matters to the process of interpretation; it also requires imaginative reading, because the whole is always more than the sum of parts. Disciplined yet imaginative thinking is much needed in every cultural moment, including ours.”
When she’s not teaching:
Dieleman creates gardens in her yard: shrubs and perennials with vegetables and herbs tucked in everywhere. “I also poke through estate sales: the more cluttered the house, the better I like it. I enjoy cooking, reading, and small DIY projects.”
Ph.D., McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, 2006
M.A., McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, 2001
B.A. (Hons.), McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, 2000
Diploma of Teaching, Covenant Canadian Reformed Teachers College, Hamilton, Ontario, 1988
Courses and Publications/Research
- Advanced Writing
- Introduction to Literature
- Introduction to Poetry and Drama
- Texts and Contexts: Renaissance to Modern
- Topics: The Rise of the Novel
- Transatlantic Literatures I (1780-1880)
- Senior Seminar: Major Author
Papers Published and/or Presented
Religious Imaginaries: The Liturgical and Poetic Practices of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Christina Rossetti, and Adelaide Procter (Ohio University Press, 2012).
Recent Peer Reviewed Publications
Evolution and the Struggle of Love in Emily Pfeiffer’s Sonnets. Victorian Poetry 54.3 (Fall 2016): 297-324.
Sacramental Memorializing: Upon the Death of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Nineteenth-Century Contexts 37.3 (May 2015): 215-31. DOI: 10.1080/08905495.2015.1043037.
A Politics of Just Memory: Elizabeth Barrett and the Greek Christian Poets. Journal of Browning Studies 3 (2012). 5-28.
Awards and Memberships
Honors & Awards
Armstrong Browning Library Fellowship, 2015
Trinity Summer Research Grants, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014
Professional Society Membership
- Midwest Victorian Studies Association
- Modern Language Association
- North American Victorian Studies Association