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Campus & Community

Karen Cherewatuk to give Grand Illuminations series lecture

The Grand Illuminations: Speaking from the Heart lecture series continues on Wednesday, March 16 with Karen Cherewatuk, Marie Malmin Meyer Professor of English at St. Olaf College. Cherewatuk will present “Good Grief: Grace Born of Subtraction” at 4 p.m. in the Sacred Heart Chapel Gathering Place at CSB. Her lecture will focus on how suffering and loss, fearful as they are, can also be a kind of saving grace. As she suggests, we can be our best selves on “the other side of sadness.” Using literary texts from John’s Gospel to Derek Walcott’s contemporary epic Omeros, Cherewatuk redefines grief as good.

“As we slowly emerge from the darkest days of these sorrowful pandemic years, the notion that grief might offer any kind of grace may see far-fetched, but Karen Cherewatuk shines a beautiful light on the role of grief in a human life,” says CSB+SJU philosophy faculty member Tony Cunningham, organizer of the Grand Illuminations series. “You may think you’ve had more than enough suffering and loss lately without hearing an English professor’s grief story, but let me assure you that you’ll be moved, and you’ll be grateful for the grace of such a thoughtful, heartfelt afternoon.”

Cherewatuk is interested in the intersections of medieval culture, history, and literature. She is the author of Dear Sister: Medieval Women and the Epistolary Genre and Marriage, Adultery, and Inheritance in Malory’s Morte Darthur. She is currently at work with a project on grief in Malory, along with a book on the epic and grief.

The Grand Illuminations lecture series aims at the “un-lecture,” where speakers resist academic jargon and expertise to speak from the heart by relating personal stories with something vital to say about putting together a good and meaningful life. The series is made possible by a generous gift from Bill Pelfrey, SJU ’88, and Steve Halverson, SJU ’76.

This lecture is free and open to the public. Masks are required.


Karen Cherewatuk