on faculty since 1986
Ph.D., University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, 1981
B.A., Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois, 1973
It’s just a short walk or bike ride from English professor and department chair 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 as department chair, 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.
“John Calvin’s Notion of ‘Exchange’ and the Usefulness of Literature.” Hermeneutics at the Crossroads: Interpretation in Christian Perspectives.Kevin Vanhoozer, James K.A. Smith, and Bruce Ellis Benson (eds.). 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, Religions, and Cultural Studies. Donald G. Marshall (ed.). New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005.
“What is Reading For? A Review Essay.” Christianity & Literature. 52:1. Autumn 2002.
“Stories from Working-Class America: Raymond Carver’s Narrators and the Difficulty of Achieving a Public Sphere.” Literature in the Public Sphere. Susan Gallagher and Mark Walhout (eds.). MacMillian & St. Martin’s Press, 2000.