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


Honors Program

Click here for the Honors Program application

The Honors Program in English is intended to challenge majors to go beyond the minimum requirements for the major, in terms of extra courses, reading, and thinking about British and American literature. A central objective of this program is extensive reading. Anyone who chooses an English major as more than just a College graduation requirement ought to be someone who loves to read someone who is always reading, and rereading, books. Not only Honors students, but other majors as well, should set themselves a reading program perhaps drawing upon the reading at the end of this handbook.

A second key objective of the program is developing the discipline of using a journal or a notecard system to keep track of one's reading and one's responses to what is read. Such a discipline is valuable for anyone in tracing intellectual and personal growth and in integrating the fragmented bits of knowledge one picks up in various courses; for the Honors Program student it can also be a means of accountability and perhaps of review.

In addition to reading and journal-keeping, the Honors Program is intended to foster intellectual exchange among students. English majors really interested in the discipline should talk about literature and be involved in activities of the discipline. The Department holds special colloquia each semester where faculty and students together will discuss topics important to the discipline. All majors will be invited to these; Honors students will be expected to attend.

English majors should want to attend Opus readings and readings by visiting poets: they are in one sense what the discipline is really about literature being performed, sometimes almost in the making. Honors students will be expected to attend such readings regularly. Participation in Opus staff and in meetings of and publications of the Inklings also is valuable.

Students interested in Honors should apply to the Chairperson of the English Department. Early application, even in the freshman year, is encouraged. Upon applying, each student will be assigned a mentor (perhaps the person's academic advisor) who will help him or her set goals to be attained in the Honors major and plan an individualized reading program, and will receive reports from the student on the texts he or she is reading.

Honors students (especially those considering graduate study in English) should achieve at least second-year proficiency in a foreign language and should take courses in philosophy and in American and English history.

To earn the English major "With Honors," a student must achieve the following:

  1. a 3.6 GPA in the major.
  2. reading fifty texts, selected by the student and his or her advisor, to be approved by the department. They should be texts not covered in that student's courses. In the shorter forms, a group of poems, stories, or essays constitutes a "text." The texts are to be distributed fairly evenly among four categories (poetry, fiction, drama, non- fiction) and among the historical periods of English and American literature, though a portion of the list may be devoted to other literatures in translation or to a particular author, genre, period, or theme of special interest. Students are encouraged to use the list to fill in areas not covered by college course work as well as to read works recommended as further reading in courses they have taken.
  3. the emphasis in the program is on the reading itself; accountability for completing that reading, carefully and thoughtfully, will be by keeping notes or a journal and/or doing an examination, written or oral, over the fifty texts.
  4. either a seminar in English (English 495) or a senior thesis (English 490). (English 454 or 455 may also be used.)
  5. attending Opus readings and readings by visiting writers, and participating in departmental colloquia.