George Appleton Lawrence Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of English; Distinguished Writer-in-Residence
"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.
Selected Professional Accomplishments
Kirkus Review: "2010 Best Fiction: the Top 25" (Snakewoman of Little Egypt), 2010.
The Washington Post: "The Best Novels of 2010" (Snakewoman of Little Egypt"), 2010.
Profiled in Current Biography (vol. 69), 2008.
Profiled in Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, 2007.
Los Angeles Times "Best Fiction of 1998" (The Fall of a Sparrow), 1998.
Publisher's Weekly "Best '98 Books" (The Fall of a Sparrow), 1998.
Profiled in Contemporary Novelists, 1996.
Society of Midland Authors Award for Fiction, 1995.
National Endowment for the Arts Artist's Fellowship, 1989.
PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, 1988.
Director of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest Florence Programs, 1982-1983.
Six Illinois Arts Council awards for fiction.
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).
"A Christmas Letter." Ploughshares, forthcoming.
The Confessions of Frances Godwin (a novel), New York: Bloomsbury, USA, forthcoming.
Snakewoman of Little Egypt: A Novel. New York: Bloomsbury, USA, September 14, 2010.
Sei settimane a Verona/Six Weeks in Verona. Biblioteca Civica di Verona, 2009.
The Italian Lover. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 2007.
"Off the Map." National Geographic Traveler, May/June, 2007.
Philosophy Made Simple. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 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.
"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.
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.
The Fall of a Sparrow. New York: Scribner, 1998. London: Viking, 1999; also published in Norway, Holland, Croatia, Spain, England, and Italy.
"Florence: A Protest at a Crossroads." The New York Times Magazine ("The Sophisticated Traveler"), November 9, 1997.
"FOR SALE" (fiction). Black Warrior Review 23 (Spring/Summer 1997).
"Bologna Through Medieval Eyes," The New York Times Magazine ("The Sophisticated Traveler"), November 10, 1996.
["What Does A Writer Want?"] The Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter (Autumn 1995).
"O Happy Men, If Love Which Rules the Stars Rule Your Hearts" (fiction), Crazyhorse 47 (Winter 1994): 125-38.
The Sixteen Pleasures (fiction). New York: Soho 1994. London: Hodder/Headline, 1994. New York: Dell 1995.
"The Second Coming" (fiction), Mississippi Valley Review 23 (Fall 1992): 63-79.
"I Speak a Little French" (fiction), Crazyhorse 43 (Winter 1992): 82-91.
"Where I Want to Be" (fiction), TriQuarterly 81 (Spring/Summer 1991): 55-76.
"Pockets of Silence" (fiction), The Chicago Tribune, Magazine Section, (January 1989): 18-20.
"What Is A Literary Experience Like?" New Literary History 14 (1982-83): 105-115.
"The Mountain of Lights" (fiction), The California Quarterly 21 (1982): 93-112. Listed in Best American Short Stories 1983; reprinted in Best Short Stories from the California Quarterly, 1971-1985.
"Elizabethan Dramatic Conventions and Elizabethan Reality," Renaissance Drama NS XII (1981): 27-49.
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