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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

Peter Schakel
The Peter C. and Emajean Cook Professor of English and Chair of the Department

Education: B.A., Central College, Iowa (1963); M.A., Southern Illinois University, Carbondale (1964); Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison (1969).

Expertise: English Literature of the Restoration and 18th Century, Jonathan Swift, C. S. Lewis.

Website: C.S. Lewis, Literature, and Life

Selected Works: The Longing for a Form: Essays on the Fiction of C. S. Lewis (1977); The Poetry of Jonathan Swift: Allusion and the Development of a Poetic Style (1978); Reading with the Heart: The Way into [C. S. Lewis's] Narnia (1979); Reason and Imagination in C. S. Lewis: A Study of "Till We Have Faces" (1984); Co-editor, Word and Story in C. S. Lewis (1991); Co-author, Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses (1997); Co-editor, Eighteenth-Century Contexts: Historical Inquiries in Honor of Phillip Harth (2001); Imagination and the Arts in C. S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds (2002); Co-editor, 250 Poems: A Portable Anthology (2002; 3rd ed, 2014), Literature: A Portable Anthology (2004; 3rd ed, 2013); Co-author, Approaching Literature: Reading and Thinking and Writing (2005; 3rd ed, 2012); The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide (2005); Is Your Lord Large Enough? (2008). Numerous scholarly essays and reviews.

Distinctions: National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fellowship for college teachers (1979-80); NEH summer seminars (1981, 1987, 1997); Mythopoeic Society Scholarship Award (1984, 1992, 1996).


Contact: Lubbers Hall 305


The Way into Narnia: A Reader's Guide (2005).
The Way into Narnia explores how a middle-aged professor with no children came to write books that have become beloved classics of children's literature. It explains the best order for reading The Chronicles of Narnia and offers guidance for first-time visitors to Narnia and fresh insights for those who have traveled there often. Exploring ideas from Lewis's colleague J. R. R. Tolkien, the book shows that the best way to enter Narnia is to read the Chronicles as fairy tales. After walking readers through each of the books, Professor Schakel concludes the tour with a unique selection of annotations that clarify unfamiliar words and unusual passages.

with Jack Ridl, Approaching Literature in the 21st Century: Fiction, Poetry, Drama (2005).
Approaching Literature is a textbook intended for second semester first-year writing courses or second-year introduction to literature courses with a writing emphasis. Its distinctive feature is its emphasis on cultural diversity: over two-thirds of the literary works included in it are by ethnic American writers or writers outside North America. It combines a fresh and accessible treatment of the literary elements of each genre with a wide-ranging collection of interesting, teachable stories, poems, and plays. It is supported by a LiterActive CD-ROM and electronic resources such as Virtual Interactive Tutorials and LitLinks, found on the Bedford/St. Martin’s web site.

with Jack Ridl, et al, editors, Literature: A Portable Anthology (2003).
This compact anthology is designed for use by general readers and in high school and college introduction to literature classes. Chronologically arranged by genre to convey historical context, the collection opens with thirty-five stories from classic authors such as Poe and Faulkner and current writers such as Alice Walker and Sandra Cisneros. The fiction section is followed by 250 poems, featuring more than 200 poets (70 of them women). The poetry section includes many classic and frequently assigned favorites and the most diverse selection of contemporary American poetry in an anthology of this scope. The book concludes with nine popular and frequently-taught plays.

Imagination and the Arts in C. S. Lewis: Journeying to Narnia and Other Worlds (2002).
The first thorough analysis of C. S. Lewis's theory of imagination, including the different ways he used the word and how those uses relate to each other. The book considers three works in which imagination is the central theme--Surprised by Joy, An Experiment in Criticism, and The Discarded Image--and shows the important role of imagination in Lewis's theory of education. It goes on to examine imagination and reading in Lewis's fiction, concentrating on the Narnia with attention to the illustrations, revisions of the texts, their order, and their narrative "voice." It then explores Lewis's ideas about imagination in music, dance, art, and architecture, and concludes with analysis of the "moral imagination."

with Jack Ridl, editors, 250 Poems: A Portable Anthology (2002).
250 Poems collects poetry in English over the past five hundred years, with an emphasis on poetry of the past fifty years including writers from various American ethnic groups. The volume is chronologically organized and includes annotation, biographical notes on the poets, and a glossary of poetic terms.

with, Howard W. Weinbrot, and Stephen E. Karian, editors, Eighteenth-Century Contexts: Historical Inquiries in Honor of Phillip Harth (2001).
Conceived to honor Phillip Harth, the Merritt Y. Hughes Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, this book collects fifteen essays by internationally distinguished contributors. The essays consider literary, intellectual, political, theological, and cultural aspects of the years 1650-1800 in the British Isles and Europe. At the center of the book is Jonathan Swift, but authors such as Congreve, Pope, Richardson, and Boswell. The volume includes an essay by Professor Schakel, “Swift’s Voices: Innovation and Complication in the Poems Written at Market Hill.”
with Jack Ridl, Approaching Poetry: Perspectives and Responses (1997).
Approaching Poetry is a textbook organized around two premises: First, an introduction to poetry needs to alleviate the fear with which many students approach poetry. It meets that need by its empathetic tone, its clear and careful explanations of technical material, and the reader-oriented approach which undergirds it. Second, introductions to poetry cannot be theory-free. Approaching Poetry begins, therefore, by explaining its underlying assumptions directly; it blends theoretical considerations into its introduction to the elements of poetry; and it offers alternative perspectives from which to approach and engage with a poem.
with Charles A. Huttar, The Rhetoric of Vision: Essays on Charles Williams (1996).
In this collection of essays, nineteen scholars examine the rhetorical means that English author Charles Williams (1886-1945) employed to convey his metaphysical, ethical, and social vision, and the rhetorical theories that guided him. About half of the essays consider Williams’s fiction; the others discuss his poetry, plays, historical and theological writings, and literary criticism. The volume was awarded the 1997 Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies by the Mythopoeic Society.
Critical Approaches to Teaching Swift (1992).
This collection of essays offers help in teaching one of the most challenging of eighteenth-century British authors, Jonathan Swift. The book opens with a survey, by Professor Schakel, of approaches taken in Swift criticism of the twentieth century. The twenty essays that follow explore Swift’s methods and themes from a wide diversity of critical and theoretical perspectives: historical, formalistic, generic, rhetorical, feminist, reader-response, poststructuralist, and pedagogical. Behind the book lie the assumptions that teachers should be self-conscious about the critical approach or approaches they inevitably employ, and that the “conversation” between different approaches enriches understanding of both Swift and his works.
with Charles A. Huttar, editors, Word and Story in C. S. Lewis (1991).
The sixteen essays in this collection examine Lewis’s ideas about language and narrative, demonstrating that awareness of his theories is essential to an understanding and appreciation of his works. Contributors examine works that had at the time received little attention, such as his poetry, The Dark Tower, and Studies in Words, as well as familiar works such as the Narnia Stories, the Ransom trilogy, Surprised by Joy, and The Allegory of Love. The collection includes an introduction by Professor Schakel and an essay by Professor Huttar, “A Lifelong Love Affair with Language: C. S. Lewis’s Poetry.” Awarded the 1992 Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies by the Mythopoeic Society.
Reason and Imagination in C. S. Lewis: A Study of “Till We Have Faces” (1984).
The first half of this book is a close analysis of C. S. Lewis’s most difficult work of fiction, Till We Haves Faces (1956). It leads the reader through the plot, clarifying themes as it discusses structure, symbols, and allusions. The second half places TWHF in context by surveying Lewis’s works, tracing the tension between reason and imagination. Awarded the 1985 Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies by the Mythopoeic Society. The first half is on line at Reason and Imagination.
Reading with the Heart: The Way into Narnia (1979).
Reading with the Heart is a literary/critical study of C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. It explores the archetypal structure, characters, and symbols Lewis used to develop the universal themes and motifs of the books, and the Christian significance he wove into the stories, particularly through echoes of and allusions to his well-known book Mere Christianity. The book is available on-line.
The Poetry of Jonathan Swift: Allusion and the Development of a Poetic Style (1978).
This book examines Swift's use of classical and contemporary allusions and shows how he uses allusions to clarify or reinforce their themes and to establish or strengthen their tones. The book traces Swift’s development as a poetic craftsman from the early odes, where allusions are scattered and decorative, through the early verse satires and classical imitations, where Swift learned that conventions borrowed from others could free him to give attention to descriptive and satiric detail, to the later satires, where such borrowings become integral to the poems, unifying structure, tone, and theme.

The Longing for a Form: Essays on the Fiction of C. S. Lewis (1977).
The Longing for a Form is the first scholarly book on the fiction of C. S. Lewis. It is made up of fourteen essays, three general studies of the fiction, four on the Ransom trilogy, four on the Chronicles of Narnia, and three on Till We Have Faces. Running through the volume is an emphasis on Form—as literary kind and as structure—and a recurrent attention to three themes of particular importance in Lewis as a writer of fiction: objectivism, longing, and the literary artist as creator. Two of the essays are by Hope College faculty members: “C. S. Lewis’s Narnia and the ‘Grand Design’” by Charles A. Huttar and “Epistemological Release in The Silver Chair” by John D. Cox.