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January 18, 2008  Guest Catherine Wallace
Program:  The Perplexity of Choice

Catherine Wallace [in her own words], "...born in Chicago in 1950, amidst the crest of the post-war Baby Boom. In many ways, I'm unmistakably a baby boomer--profoundly shaped by the 1960s, by the war in Vietnam, and by Watergate. One of the kids killed at Kent State was a sophomore and an English major. She was simply walking past the demonstration en route to her one o'clock history class. I was also a sophomore and an English major; I also had a one o'clock history class that semester. One of my older brothers, meanwhile, was an Air Force pilot actually doing the bombing in Cambodia that set off these demonstrations. I have remembered that young woman and prayed for her and her family at each milestone in my own life, as some people no doubt will go through their lives praying for colleagues who died on September 11. Such experiences have left me far more concerned about the abuse of power and the decadence of institutions than I am about the risks of putting too much faith in individuals.

After a remarkably substantial high school curriculum taught by the I.H.M. (Immaculate Heart of Mary) sisters of Monroe, MI, I headed off to the deeper and wider waters of a Jesuit university. It was glorious. After graduation in 1972, I launched myself immediately into graduate school. I earned a Master's Degree in English from Northwestern University in 1973, and a doctorate from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 1977.

After three years of full-time motherhood I began freelance writing and editing, eventually earning a certificate in editing from the American Medical Writers Association. As the children moved into junior high, I gradually returned to serious reading and writing of my own. The fruits of that are variously displayed on this website; there's a somewhat longer version of this story told in the excerpt from Selling Ourselves Short. More yet is told in Motherhood in the Balance.

For the last several years, and through the end of 2004, I have served as Lilly Endowment Writer in Residence at Seabury-Western, an Episcopal seminary on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, IL. People often ask me what a writer in residence does. I write! I lark about in the library with all the rights and privileges that come with a "faculty" library card. From time to time, I also talk to individual seminarians about their papers and about their reading. In the fall quarter of 2003, I will be leading a weekly writers' group for first year students--my first venture back into a classroom in many years. Seabury seminarians are a remarkably interesting group of people..

 

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