SCIO is pleased by the news that alumna Jen Schmidt (Michaelmas Term, 2016) has been accepted to study for an MLitt at the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts (ITIA) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland.

Jen, who was a Creative Writing major at Biola University in La Mirada, California, remembers that she had ‘no thoughts of grad school’ when she arrived in Oxford at the beginning of the fall semester of her senior year. Her desire simply to ‘escape to the mountains to write’ took a dramatic turn, however, upon encountering the lively academic atmosphere of Oxford; she writes:

During a tea at Wycliffe, I met and spoke with Dr. Michael Burdett, who, after a conversation on heroic literature, C.S. Lewis, and medieval theology, recommended that I look into ITIA — the Institute for Theology, Imagination, and the Arts, a postgraduate program at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Encouraged by my tutor, Dr. Jonathan Thorpe, and my insightful Oxford friends, I ended up applying and am now an MLitt student with the program for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Regarding her research interests, Jen writes:

Even though my passion lies specifically in writing fiction and poetry, there is much to be learned from the stories that continue to influence our culture over the centuries, and much to be learned from how theology has both shaped and been shaped by stories of heroism. Our perception of heroes is simultaneously fluctuating and static, and literature is a beautiful medium for conveying, celebrating, and critiquing that perception.

Though Jen is now two years removed from her time at SCIO, her experience of Oxford remains significant:

During SCIO, I was able to explore my interest in combining theology and fiction perhaps more than at any other point in my undergrad, and couldn’t have explored that as fully if it hadn’t also been for the people in the program with whom I discussed and debated the overflow of ideas. While I am here in Scotland, the plans are to publish my poetry manuscript back in the States, and continue work on my novel. In the end, I am in the mountains, writing, but it isn’t at all in the way I expected.