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Deborah Bowen

Poetry, Write150 Prize Judges

Deborah Bowen I grew up in England in a house full of books, with five or six newspapers delivered daily, and both parents as professional writers. Not surprisingly, I was an avid reader and writer from a young age, and eventually studied English Language and Literature at Oxford University.

My husband and I actually came to Canada as missionaries with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship, called to work with university students first in Toronto and then in Ottawa. It was in my new country that I earned my PhD and taught English at the universities of Ottawa and Montreal, before coming to Redeemer in 1996. It’s with a strong sense of calling that I’ve always kept a foot in both Christian and non-Christian academic circles.

The notion of common grace—that every good gift comes from God (James 1:17)—is central to my research and teaching. Of course writing is a gift given at least as richly to non-Christian writers as to Christian ones, and it is important for me to help students at Redeemer to recognize and appreciate these gifts. And because I feel called to keep connected with what God is doing in the wider university scene, I try to present at one public and one specifically Christian academic conference each year, sometimes in Canada and sometimes in the U.S. or Europe. I also try to publish articles in both Christian and secular academic journals. And I am the co-chair of the Christianity and Literature Study Group, an affiliated organization with ACCUTE (the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English).

In my teaching, I want my students to understand how literature is an active force in the world and how their reading relates to the broader culture. I believe deeply that as they learn to interpret texts, they will also learn to read their own lives better, and that this kind of skill in reading and interpreting can also help them recognize the hand of God at work in whatever circles they are called to learn and live.

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