Thursday, December 10, 2009

Encounters/Jesper Rosenmeier

A friend of mine once said that every woman should have at least one girlfriend who has known her since they were in high school and one old boyfriend she can still talk to. I would add to that, at least one memorable teacher. Mine was Jesper Rosenmeier, a Danish scholar of early American literature, who influenced my reading and helped me develop both my skill and my faith in myself as a writer.

He pushed me to articulate my ideas in class--a harrowing experience for a shy freshman who had somehow landed in an upper level English class in her second semester. He challenged me to pull together the fragments of ideas jotted down in my journal and follow them into new intellectual territory. He never allowed me to become complacent or lazy.

Rosenmeier was a big man, a towering presence with a dramatic and passionate teaching style. When he read a passage from Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," you could feel the flames of hell lapping at your feet. He was also expansive and generous and funny.

Who has shaped you?

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