Reflections on a Calvin College conference

In the process of writing my senior English thesis, Dr. Baker suggested I submit it to the undergraduate section of the Midwestern Conference for Christianity and Literature at Calvin College. I did, and to my surprise, got accepted to present my paper to fellow undergrads as well as professors at the conference. The process of preparing my paper for the presentation was a great learning experience…and of course, getting to attend the conference and hear papers from others, as well as eat delicious food and hear the Pulitzer prize winning author Marilyn Robinson was a real treat! My paper was about identity re-creation in the context of metanarrative, and looked at the non-Fiction work “Country of My Skull” by South African author Antjie Krog. This book tracks the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa set up at the end of apartheid, through the eyes of a white, Afrikaans poet.

Since the Conference was back-to-back with the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin, I was able to spend an entire weekend at the college, going to workshops and hearing speakers and writers. Here are some of my favorite quotes and incidents from the weekend:

-“We need the courage of risking respect towards whoever we encounter”. (Marilyn Robinson)

– Spilling my cup of trail-mix all over the floor, and having the surrounding professors help me clean it up and comfort me by comparing it to the coin scene in Ellison’s “Battle Royale.” I love English people.

–“People are incandescent with the spark of God’s glory, and this is opposed to the “instincts” and “urges” that science says we are.” (Marilyn Robinson)

–Eating fancy food that I don’t even know how to pronounce.

–Getting to hear Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian writer of “Purple Hibiscus” fame)talk about her writing.

— “A story is a country where you can both stand together for a while in the space after a big question.There’s no answer unless you tell a story–the only way to tiptoe towards glory is through story.” (Brian Doyle, author.)

I’m so thankful the Honor’s Guild made this learning experience possible, and would highly recommend that honors students keep their eyes open for the next conference in two years.

— Stephanie Binion, Class of 2012

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