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Hope College
Department of English
126 E. 10th St.
Holland, MI 49423
phone: 616.395.7620
fax: 616.395.7134


English Department Faculty

Rhoda Burton
Associate Professor

Education: B.A., Fresno Pacific University (1984); M.A., Creative Writing, University of Florida, Gainesville (1989); M.A., UCLA (1997); Ph.D., UCLA (2002).

Expertise: Creative Writing (poetry), American Literature 1865-1925.

Selected Works: Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? (2012), Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (2009); Babel's Stair (Word Press, 2006); Poems in many anthologies and journals, including American Literary Review, Gettysburg Review, and Yale Review.

Contact: Lubbers Hall 333
To email Prof. Burton, please contact the department assistant (


Does this Church Make Me Look Fat? (2012)
What does it mean to give church a try when you haven’t really tried since you were twelve? At the end of her bestselling memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen had reconnected with her family and her roots, though her future felt uncertain. But when she starts dating a churchgoer, this skeptic begins a surprising journey to faith and love.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (2009)
From Publishers Weekly: Starred Review. At first, the worst week of Janzen's life—she gets into a debilitating car wreck right after her husband leaves her for a guy he met on the Internet and saddles her with a mortgage she can't afford—seems to come out of nowhere, but the disaster's long buildup becomes clearer as she opens herself up. Her 15-year relationship with Nick had always been punctuated by manic outbursts and verbally abusive behavior, so recognizing her co-dependent role in their marriage becomes an important part of Janzen's recovery (even as she tweaks the 12 steps just a bit). The healing is further assisted by her decision to move back in with her Mennonite parents, prompting her to look at her childhood religion with fresh, twinkling eyes. (She provides an appendix for those unfamiliar with Mennonite culture, as well as a list of shame-based foods from hot potato salad to borscht.) Janzen is always ready to gently turn the humor back on herself, though, and women will immediately warm to the self-deprecating honesty with which she describes the efforts of friends and family to help her re-establish her emotional well-being.

Babel's Stair (2006)
"A Mennonite childhood, a young adulthood as a fashion model, an academic career in places as far-flung as Los Angeles and a small Michigan town: Rhoda Janzen weaves these autobiographical elements together in poems that are at once unpredictable in their developments and disciplined in their formalities. 'Bible Belt,' from which this collection's title comes, sets an admirably high standard, met time and again by other poems here. Sensuous even as they are learned, at home with the vulgar as well as with the elegant, and characterized by 'a superb boldness / at facing facts' yet surpassing strange withal, they combine to make a brilliantly various, wickedly alluring, and surprisingly mature first volume."--Stephen Yenser