Marilynne RobinsonIn the first semester of my third year I decided to take a course called Literature & Theology taught by Dr. Paul Doerksen. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I made during my degree. Paul taught the class in a different style than he had before; we spent the whole semester studying the work of one scholar named Marilynne Robinson. Robinson’s confidence in her writing and awareness of the world are some of the qualities I admired in her.

Fast-forward to a couple weeks ago, and Marilynne Robinson shows up in Winnipeg promoting The Givenness of Things: Essays, her new book, at McNally Robinson bookstore. Paul, my friend Jacqueline who also took this course, and I decided to attend this event, with hopes that we would be able to meet her, grab a couple autographs, and ask some questions.

While I watched Robinson speak I came to a number of realizations:

  • It’s valuable to my university experience to have had the opportunity to thoroughly engage with one scholar’s entire works.
  • I am fortunate to have profs who are committed to continuing to educate their students outside the classroom.
  • Robinson and CMU share a similar vision for education. During her lecture, Robinson made a comment about how education should be seen as a ‘communion’ – shared and valued within a community, and understood as an exchange of not only mental but emotional experiences. (Thanks for rocking my world once again, Marilynne).

Before we left the book launch, Paul, Jacqueline, and I were able to snag a picture with Marilynne—I joked with Paul that he should put the picture on the front of his syllabus if he ever teaches the course again. I guess time will tell. The opportunity to study and meet Marilynne Robinson is something I value immensely, and I have CMU to thank for that.

Alex Tiessen is one of CMU’s Student Ambassadors