Prof. Alissa Wilkinson: From Technology to Teaching
From a bachelor’s degree in technology to founding a magazine to teaching at the King’s College, Alissa Wilkinson has had a very eclectic career. In her own words, she has “always been in pursuit of the place where a big idea connects with something more concrete– something in pop culture, a social phenomenon, a political discussion.” But her career path shows that it took time to discover what she loved.
Wilkinson graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with an intention to work in technology on Wall Street, which she did for two years. When she realized those in her field found technology a lot more interesting than she did, she began looking for a new career path.
Wilkinson didn't know exactly what she wanted to do, but she knew she loved interdisciplinary studies and went on to earn an M.A. at NYU in 20th century philosophy and religion. Merging her technological skill with her love for writing, Wilkinson dabbled in technical writing by managing a biannual technology magazine for which she wrote articles, pitched ideas, edited, designed and got the magazine to press.
From there she went on to work for the International Arts Movement, a think tank that pursues “the world that ought to be” through different aspects of culture. While working at IAM, Wilkinson managed programs and developed resources such as The Curator. While working at IAM, Wilkinson also freelanced for magazines like Christianity Today and WORLD Magazine, which opened doors to her current career as a King's writing professor.
In 2009 Marvin Olasky, the editor of WORLD Magazine and former provost of The King’s College, offered Wilkinson a part-time job teaching College Writing I at King’s. Wilkinson says she was excited when she discovered that King’s shared her emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. This is now her second academic year of full-time teaching.
The courses she currently instructs are College Writing I, Principles of Cultural Interpretation, The Post-Modern World and Cultural Criticism. She likes to challenge students by asking, “How can we take this thing and relate it to the broader culture?” While teaching at King’s, Wilkinson has had the chance to use some of her technical abilities as well.
“I tried to get away from technology but it always comes back,” Wilkinson said.
Although teaching takes up much of her time, Wilkinson still finds ways to pursue her love of writing as a student in an MFA Program in Creative Nonfiction at Seattle Pacific University. She also writes movie reviews for Christianity Today and book reviews for Books & Culture. Wilkinson also co-edits a public theology journal called Readers Guild and Comment, a magazine that publishes essays of emerging writers. This fall Wilkinson attended an academic conference where her paper on Francis Schaeffer’s view of art was reviewed and then mentioned in the New York Times.
Wilkinson focuses much of her writing today “on culture, theology, religion, and politics." She has discovered her favorite writing style is criticism in essay form.
“I just write about whatever I find interesting,” she said. Wilkinson believes that even though one may not know what to do professionally, pursuing the opportunities available will help a person eventually discover his or her passion. What one learns along the way isn’t a waste but in the end creates a well-rounded person.