posted September 4, 2004

Profs Co-Author Literature Anthology

Peter Schakel and Jack Ridl of the Hope College English faculty are co-authors of "Approaching Literature in the 21st Century: Fiction, Poetry, Drama," which was recently published by Bedford/St. Martin's Press in Boston.

The book is intended primarily for use in first- or second-year college "Introduction to Literature" courses and junior- or senior-level high school literature classes. It explains and illustrates the elements used in fiction, poetry, and drama, and includes more than 50 stories, 200 poems, and 12 plays as examples for students to read and discuss.

Schakel and Ridl drew on their combined 80 years of experience in teaching literature to create a text that is challenging without being intimidating, engaging without being trendy. They bring together the traditional as well as the most recent approaches to making both the reading and the study of literature an intellectually stimulating and experientially broadening experience. Included in the book are fresh ways of understanding and appreciating literature and helpful, stimulating approaches for responding to and writing about literature more clearly and perceptively. They also provide guidance for teachers in the accompanying "Instructor's Manual."

A distinctive feature of the book is that it is the most culturally diverse introduction to literature textbook on the market. Its emphasis on American multicultural authors and world authors speaks to today's diverse student populations, and also prepares more homogenous classrooms for a multicultural and global future. William Sheidley, chair of the English department at Colorado State University-Pueblo, has said that the book is "accessible, up-to-date, and practical" with "generous, readable, and accurate introductions" and many "intriguing new voices" among the authors represented.

Included in the book is work by six Hope College students: Alicia L. Abood, a 2004 graduate from Lansing; Daniel J. Carter, a senior from Troy; Kortney M. DeVito, a senior from Okemos; Kristina Martinez, a 2004 graduate from Holland; Catherine Anne Otto, a senior from Byron Center; and Caleb C. Sheng, a 2004 graduate from Brighton. Together they contributed samples of student writing in a variety of forms: a journal entry, an essay exam answer, several short essays, and a research paper. Several also contributed first-person explanations of the writing process--of the steps they followed as they planned, drafted, and revised their work. A photo of each student writer is included, along with a photo and statement on active reading or on writing by each inside the front cover.This is the fourth book on which Schakel and Ridl have collaborated. They previously co-authored a textbook, "Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses" (St. Martin's Press, 1996), and edited "250 Poems: A Portable Anthology" (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2003). They are co-editors, with Janet E. Gardner from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and Beverly Lawn from Adelphi University, of "Literature: A Portable Anthology" (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2004).

Schakel joined the Hope faculty in 1969 after a year at the University of Nebraska. He is a graduate of Central College in Iowa and holds graduate degrees from Southern Illinois University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is author or editor of two books on Jonathan Swift and five on C. S. Lewis, the most recent of which, "Imagination and the Arts in C.S. Lewis," was published by the University of Missouri Press in 2002. He is the Peter C. and Emajean Cook Professor of English and chair of the department of English at Hope.

Ridl is the author of several collections of poetry, the most recent being "Against Elegies," chosen by U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins as the winner of the 2001 "Letterpress Chapbook Competition" sponsored by the Center for Book Arts of New York City. It is currently in its second printing. His earlier books of poetry include "The Same Ghost" (1985), "Between" (1988), the chapbook "After School" (1987) and "Poems from The Same Ghost and Between" (1993). He has published more than 300 poems in journals and has work included in numerous anthologies. Ridl has taught at Hope since 1971. He was winner of the Hope Outstanding Professor-Educator award for 1976, and in 1996 was named Michigan Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.