The Redeemer English Department are pleased to announce that Nicholas Slagter has won the 2016-2017 Department of English Essay Prize with his essay, “Sacrificial Sonnet: Consoling Donne’s Dislike for Petrarchan Distance.” Through a close reading of Holy Sonnet 14, Nick argues that John Donne deliberately resists the temptation of the traditional Petrarchan sonnet to come to a neat resolution in order to allow the poem’s lack of wholeness to embody in its form the experience of human brokenness. Nick shows that the unconventional aspects of the poem, from the harshness of the opening phrase (“Batter my heart”) to the absence of a clear turning point, leave the question of God’s presence only partly answered. What seems like an imperfect sonnet, Nick demonstrates, is in effect a perfect expression of the believer’s incomplete struggle with faith.
The department also congratulates Elise Arsenault on her essay, “An Unlikely Angel, a Divine Stroll, and Epistemological Stewardship,” which received an honourable mention in this year’s essay competition. Elise’s essay fruitfully aligns two short stories by Gabriel García Márquez and Alice Walker along the axis of a Christian worldview that acknowledges simultaneously the brokenness of the world and the potential for its renewal. Stories about disintegration, Elise argues, point to the desire for integration and call the reader to work toward wholeness through understanding and action.