"I'm very interested in the nature of literary experience, which is affective as well as interpretative. What is this experience like? Why do we value it so highly? The heavy emphasis we place on interpretation has pushed questions about the affective dimension of literary experience to the periphery of literary studies. I'd like to nudge them a little closer to the center."
Years at Knox: 1968 to present
Ph. D., English, 1969, Princeton University.
B.A., English, 1963, University of Michigan.
Composition, fiction, poetry, malory, milton, English renaissance literature, English romantic literature, literary criticism, classical mythology, fiction writing.
Illinois Arts Council Finalist Award, 2006.
Paperback rights for The Sixteen Pleasures renewed by Dell, 2005.
Film rights for The Sixteen Pleasures optioned by director Andy Tennant ("Hitch") and producer Gigi Pritzker ("The Wedding Planner"), 2005.
Runner-up, Society of Midland Authors' Fiction Award, for Blues Lessons, 2002.
Alan Cheuse's "Recommended Reading for Summer 2002," National Public Radio (Blues Lessons).
Los Angeles Times list of "Best Fiction of 1998" (Fall of a Sparrow).
Publisher's Weekly "Best '98 Books" (Fall of a Sparrow).
Snakewoman of Little Egypt: A Novel. New York: Bloomsbury, USA, September 14, 2010.
Profiled in Current Biography, March 2008.
The Italian Lover. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2007.
Philosophy Made Simple. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2006.
Philosophy Made Simple, Little, Brown, 2006.
Blues Lessons. New York: Scribner, 2002. Paperback edition, 2003.
"Rural Writers." In the Middle of the Middle West. Edited by Becky Bradway. Indiana University Press (2003): 200-204.
"Snapshots of Aphrodite." Story Quarterly 38 (2002): 478-488.
"A Writer's Christmas." Gettysburg Review, 2001.
Review of Ann Patchett's bel canto. Chicago Tribune book section, Sunday, June 27, 2001.
Selected journal entries in The Writer's Journal: 40 Contemporary Writers and their Journals. Edited by Sheila Bender. New York: Dell, 1997. Reprinted in Keeping a Journal You Love, edited by Sheila Bender. Cincinnati: Walking Stick Press, 136-54, 2001.
"Tuscany." The National Geographic, special collector's issue ("Fifty Places of a Lifetime"), 1999. Reprinted in, and online at, The National Geographic Traveler Magazine, 2001.
Cover review of Jane Hamilton's Disobedience. Chicago Tribune book section, Sunday, October 29, 2000.
Cover review of Joe McGinniss's Miracle of Castel di Sangro. Chicago Tribune book section, Sunday, June 6, 1999.
Short piece on a bed and breakfast in a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oak Park, Illinois. New York Times Magazine ("The Sophisticated Traveler") 11, Sunday July 25, 1999.
Review of Isabel Allende's Aphrodite. San Jose Mercury News, (lead review in book section), Sunday, April 12, 1998.
Review of Louis Begley's Mistler's Exit. Chicago Tribune book section, Sunday, December 27, 1998.
"Gutenberg Man." Cover article, Illinois Library Association Newsletter XVI, Issue 6, 1998.
"When Florence Was A Flood Plain." Sky (Delta Airlines in-flight magazine), 135-39, 1996. Reprinted in Travelers' Tales Guides: Italy: True Stories of Life on the Road edited by Anne Calcagno. San Francisco: Travelers' Tales Inc., 1998.
The Fall of a Sparrow. New York: Scribner, 1998. London: Viking, 1999; also published in Norway, Holland, Croatia, Spain, England, and Italy.
Campus & Community Involvement
Master class, Midwest Writing Center, Rock Island, Illinois, 2005.
What Students Say
"Professor Hellenga is very approachable and open, always willing to discuss ideas. He encourages his students to explore fully their responses to literature and to go beyond the obvious. Professor Hellenga has taught me that my subjective response to literature is just as valuable as my objective analysis. Under his guidance, my writing has become more reflective, and my understanding of literature has deepened."
-Becky Kubis, English literature and educational studies major
Through his music capstone project, Nate Beck -- who has a minor in business and management -- finds that the processes of brand management and music composition have more in common than you'd probably expect.
Baby talk is serious business for senior Megan Beney, a double major in music and anthropology and sociology. Her Honors research focuses on the musical qualities of the ways that people talk to infants.
Leading up to a worldwide event -- Gun Control Theatre Action Week, May 27 through June 2 -- a play by Knox College theatre professor Neil Blackadder is selected for a new collection, "24 Gun Control Plays."