Faculty Profile


Luke Reinsma

Professor Emeritus of English

Email: lreinsma@spu.edu

Education: BA, Calvin College, 1970; PhD, University of Michigan, 1978
Specialties: Medieval literature, expository writing

Born in the Netherlands, Luke Reinsma has been devoted to Christian education his entire life – first as a student at a little Dutch Calvinist Christian school in north Seattle; then at the equally Dutch Calvin(ist) College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from which he nearly got expelled for his role in the Bananer, a spoof of the church magazine; then as a teacher at a Baptist private school in Memphis, Tennessee, whose secretary was Johnny Cash’s sister; then for a couple of years at East Grand Rapids Christian High School, where (after tearing the principal’s loudspeaker out of the wall) he discovered that he liked teaching better than babysitting; then (as a student again) in the ’70s at the University of Michigan, where he turned to medieval studies, writing his dissertation on the Old English homilies of the Benedictine monk Aelfric; and, finally, for several years teaching at a Lutheran college in Minnesota, where, surrounded by two-million acres of corn, he longed to return to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.

The proud recipient of a gold watch for 25 years of faithful service at SPU, he’s recently calculated that he’s had the pleasure of teaching and climbing in the Pacific Northwest for the past quarter of a century. When he’s not teaching British literature, grammar, and the history of English, Dr. Reinsma spends his spare time supervising students in elementary education; working with University Scholars; reading Chaucer for iTunes; taking students on study abroad tours of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and England; hanging out at Caffe Vita with students over good coffee; and hiking Mt. Si on Thursdays with students fool enough to crawl out of bed at 6 a.m.

In the meanwhile, in perennial search for the Holy Grail — the Ten Best Books Ever — he’s been reading a terrific collection of melancholy books, including Robert Caro’s stunning, multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson, which is about how corruption and power were turned to the public good; Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, and Dennis Johnson’s Tree of Smoke, all obsessed with evil; more recently, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (requiescat in pace), obsessed with obsessions; and most memorably, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which is, for a change of pace, not only about obsession but finally, like Homer’s Iliad, about hope. For more of  “Luke’s Books,” you can check out his commonplace book, disguised as a blog.

And if you would like to read his library shelves, which is sort of like an academic version of a brain scan, check out Library Thing, which cross-indexes thousands of libraries in search of their literary soul-mates. 

When he’s not teaching, Dr. Reinsma spends a considerable portion of his summers replenishing his own soul on long walks. Having hiked the Pacific Crest Trail through Washington and Oregon, he hopes to chip away at California during the next several summers, in order to fulfill his life-long dream of hiking from Mexico to Canada. Next on the list, the Lord willing, is a trek through Nepal and, in celebration of his retirement, a very long walk from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail.