Michael Vander Weele
Professor of English
on faculty since 1986
It’s just a short walk or bike ride from English professor Michael Vander Weele’s home in Palos Heights to Trinity’s campus. Brief though that trip may be, Vander Weele’s professional journey spans a much greater distance over the course of 22 years of teaching at the College.
A 1973 Trinity graduate with a B.A. in English and a minor in philosophy, Vander Weele earned a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1981. From there, he taught at Northwestern College (IA) for five years before joining Trinity’s faculty in the English department.
Vander Weele’s contributions to academic life at Trinity cannot be easily quantified or measured, since his impact on both students and faculty extends far beyond the curriculum and classroom. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, reviews, and publications. As a 15-year veteran of the Christian Scholar’s Review board, Vander Weele has immersed himself in the study and practice of “the place of religion and literature in public life and the role of liturgy in shaping the life of the church and its members in all [aspects] of life.”
He likens the classroom to a humanities laboratory, where the Reformed worldview infuses his interest in “the role literature can play in forming the self-identity of a community, whether defined by place, belief, social-economic level, or some combination of those three.” He delights in the two-way dialogue that occurs between student and teacher, informed by the notion of “having a common task that we all work on together, whether as senior or junior scholars.”
Scholarship is the keynote of Vander Weele’s role, and scholarship is evident in the many honors, awards, and professional recognition he has received. Recent accomplishments include two years as an Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education lecturer; acceptance into five National Endowment of the Humanities Seminars; three Calvin Summer Seminars in Christian Scholarship; and the international School of Criticism and Theory.
Among the reasons he values and appreciates Trinity are that the College provides “a holistic view of the way belief in God percolates through all of life; a strong core curriculum; and a chance to be part of a nurturing community whose student and faculty members’ work can be tested in larger venues.”
Apart from teaching and mentoring students, Vander Weele pursues his interests in biking, reading, gardening, and listening to all kinds of music, “including alternative rock music that my kids are good enough to introduce me to.”
Married for nearly 35 years to Albertena ’74, former director of Trinity’s Cooper Career Center who died of cancer in 2007, he attends Hope Christian Reformed Church in Oak Forest, Illinois.
Ph.D., University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1981
B.A., Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois, 1973
Courses and Publications/Research
- British and American Literature from 1789 to 1865
- College English: Composition
- College English: Introduction to English Literature
- Contemporary British and American Literature from 1960 to the Present
- Literature and History of the Ancient Mediterranean
- Modern British Literature from 1860 to 1960
- Rhetorical Backgrounds to English Literature
Papers Published and/or Presented
“Emotional Risk, Civic Interest, Lyric Poetry: George Herbert’s Temple.” Submitted to the George Herbert Journal.
“The Siren and the Admiral: Civic and Personal Identity.” Renascence (forthcoming—based on 2015 Trinity Summer Research Grant).
“The Human Effort to Exchange Stories and Uwem Akpan’s Child Narrators.” Religion & Literature 47:3 (Fall 2016—had initial support through a 2010 summer research grant).
“Are You Alone Wise?” Review essay of Susan Schreiner. Books and Culture (November, 2013), including interview done with colleague Craig Mattson.
“Postlude.” Voices of Redemption, by Bethany Eizenga and Monica Brands. Publishing for Community, 2012.
“Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and the Difficult Gift of Human Exchange.” Christianity and Literature 59:2 (Winter 2010).
“On Eloquence and Purpose,” Review Essay of Denis Donoghue. Christianity and Literature 58: 1 (Autumn 2008).
“John Calvin’s Notion of ‘Exchange’ and the Usefulness of Literature.” Hermeneutics at the Crossroads: Interpretation in Christian Perspective. Eds. Kevin Vanhoozer, James K.A. Smith, and Bruce Ellis Benson. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006.
“Jane Eyre and the Tradition of Self-Assertion; or Bronte’s Socialization of Schiller’s ‘Play Aesthetic’” The Force of Tradition: Response and Resistance in Literature, Religion, and Cultural Studies. Ed. Donald G. Marshall. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. (This essay has an extra section on genre expectations not found in the journal article listed below.)
Guest Editor’s “Introduction.” Christian Scholar’s Review theme issue on Christian-Muslim Dialogue 34: 4 (Summer 2005).
“Jane Eyre and the Tradition of Self-Assertion; or Bronte’s Socialization of Schiller’s ‘Play Aesthetic’” Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature 57:1 (Fall 2004).
“What Is Reading For? A Review Essay.” Christianity & Literature 52:1 (Autumn 2002).
“Simone Weil and George Herbert on the Vocations of Writing and Reading.” Religion & Literature 32:3 (Autumn 2000).
“Stories from Working-Class America: Raymond Carver’s Narrators and the Difficulty of Achieving a Public Sphere.” Literature in the Public Sphere. Eds. Susan Gallagher & Mark Walhout. MacMillan (England) & St. Martin’s Press (USA), Spring 2000.
Christianity & Literature (7);
Christian Scholars Review (2);
Literary Research / Recherche Litteraire (1)
Religion & Literature (2)
Recent Conference Presentations
The Hospitable Text (2011), cosponsored by Religion & Literature, Christianity & Literature, and Theology & Literature—paper on Nigerian author Uwem Akpan; Midwest Christianity & Literature (2014)—paper on Dante’s Purgatorio 19; George Herbert Society—paper on Herbert & Prudentius.
Council of Independent Colleges Summer Seminar on “Homer Across the Curriculum: The Homeric Hymns and the Poetry of Hesiod” at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, D.C. (Summer 2009).
Calvin College Summer Seminar in Christian Scholarship: Liturgy and Politics: Is the Church a Polis?” directed by William Cavanaugh (Summer 2006–participation cut short after one week due to illness of my wife).
NEH Seminar, “Calvin and the Transformation of Culture in Geneva, France, and Beyond,” directed by Karin Maag and Raymond Mentzer (Meeter Center for Calvin Studies, Calvin College (Summer 2004).
Calvin College Fieldstead Summer Seminar in Christian Scholarship: “Hermeneutics at the Cross Roads,” directed by Kevin Vanhoozer (Summer 2002).
Awards and Memberships
- Nominated for President of the Conference on Christianity & Literature, 2009.
- Trinity Christian College Alumnus of the Year Award, 2011.
- Association of Reformed Institutions of Higher Education (ARIHE) Lecturer, 2006-08.