Courses

We offer a wide range of unique classes taught by professors who love what they do and take joy in furthering their students intellectually, spiritually and socially.

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SPECIAL TOPICS (ENGL 113)

Catalog course ENGL 113 consists of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below. To see course details, including dates, times and professors, please use the Registrar’s course scheduler.

English 113 Section Descriptions — Fall 2017

ENGL 113.01 Crime and Punishment
Did your mom or dad or grandparents take this same course from me? I have used this same title since 1972; only the books and films and faces have changed. This is your chance to play Erin Brockovich or James Bond or Spike Lee or Agatha Christie, hot on the trail of clues leading to the exposure of past or current problems of law and order, cops and robbers, race and gender, crime and punishment. Readings, written exercises and experiments, compositions, research projects, interviews, discussions and classroom capers will focus on such significant issues as prison conditions, crimes against women and minorities, biological terrorism, drinking laws, the Holocaust and environmental crimes. With luck and skill, you may write the perfect crime or, at least, the perfect expository essay. Several classes will be devoted to writing workshops where you will read and comment on early and polished drafts of papers by class members. TV programs and occasional films will supplement the reading material. Four credit hours.

ENGL 113.02 The American War in Vietnam
The American War in Vietnam was a controversial time in the United States. While soldiers were entrenched in a deadly war in Vietnam, the population at home was torn apart in their views on the war. In this class, we approach the war through the words of those actively involved in the conflict. We read one novel by an American solider and one by a North Vietnamese soldier, plus find other ways to see the war from both sides. In between we read many smaller excerpts from other writers, discuss different viewpoints, write responses to specific questions, and research and write longer papers.

ENGL 113.03 College Writing: Feminisms
This is a writing, reading and researching intensive course. Laptops are required daily.

In “Academic Writing: Feminisms” students will become acclimated with writing for and conversing with a college-educated audience through their research-oriented exploration of feminist perspectives in the United States and abroad. The focus of this writing workshop is, of course, to help you become a more effective writer. “Academic Writing: Feminisms” is a writing workshop, which means the majority of our time will be devoted to writing activities, in-class workshops and peer reviews. In-class writing and group work will take up much of our time.

 “Academic Writing: Feminisms” aims to increase your ability to summarize, develop and express ideas concisely; to engage with multiple literacies; to introduce you to research processes. The course gives special attention to academic writing in its various forms — critical summary, synthesis, peer-review, cultural analysis, annotated bibliography, multimodal writing — all of which are based on the reading of primary and secondary texts — scholarly and popular. Student-scholars are expected to contribute regularly and meaningfully to class discussions and activities.

 This course is also flagged for “information literacy” within the general education curriculum; thus, it is essential that you become fluent with the skills required to understand and effectively seek, identify, evaluate and access various forms of information.

ENGL 113.04 Who Are You?
(The Who had it right.) Though 50 years or so have traveled by – mostly in the fast lane – we could still say that in 2017 much insightful language we might use to describe ourselves and our life views may be expressed in song titles of the band The Who from the 1960s and 1970s. “Who Are You?” continues to have more importance than just as a television or commercial theme song, and consider “A Little is Enough,” “Don’t Get Fooled Again,” “How Can You Do It Alone?” “Disguises” and “I Don’t Even Know Myself.” 

Song titles put aside, this expository writing course may allow you to articulate a little of who you are and what you have to say while adding to your preparation for the academic writing requirements of Hope College. Stressing the methods of the writing workshop process, our work will focus on clarity, depth of thought, voice, organization and language effectiveness.  Plan to read a variety of essay samples, write both formally and informally, engage in critical evaluation of your own products and those of others, research and cite thoroughly, and make valuable contributions within the group.  Hopefully the class will advance the realization that sincere, fluent thought and writing can occur “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere” (Townshend and Daltrey 1965).

ENGL 113.05 and 113.06 The Will to Survive
After all, isn’t that what life is all about anyway — surviving? To what extent do human beings fight to survive? To what lengths and extremes will we go to cling to life? What is the limit of our hanging on?

In this English 113 section, participants will read, discuss and be asked to write in response to literature that exemplifies humankind’s desire to survive. To inspire our discussing and writing, we will explore three different pieces of nonfiction literature. Actual titles may change, but currently we are scheduled to read the following works: 

  • In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton
  • Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody
  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

And, speaking of survival, a major goal of this class will be to help you “survive” the writing that will be demanded of you in the real world of college and beyond; therefore, we’ll explore and practice writing that narrates, informs, persuades, reviews, responds, shares and/or entertains.

Class time will be spent discussing the assigned literature and (to a greater extent) responding to and helping each other with the writing we create — in pairs, in small groups and as a whole class. We will also spend time learning together through informal lectures, student presentations, in-class writing and individual student-teacher conferences. We’ll choose from different types of writing in order to create some final products, and, eventually, we’ll create a more in-depth research project.

ENGL 113.07 and 08 Writing Workshop
It takes practice and it takes patience to hone writing skills. In this workshop-oriented section of English 113, we explore your interests and experiences to develop a series of essays during the term. We also use several novels and the textbook Concise Guide to Writing as a baseline for our work together. Often, you will find, the writing process is not magic, it’s mechanics — plus a dash of inspiration. With the benefit of the instructor’s longtime experience as a writer and editor in the workplace, you will learn about crafting communication for today’s audiences, from on paper to online, and from the academic essay to the casual-yet-concise communication of websites and blogs.

ENGL 113.09 and 113.11 Spiritual Life Writing
This course centers on writing through the lens of the spiritual life. We’ll look together at the ways in which people use the written word to make sense of who they are in relation to life’s big questions: Who am I? Who or what is the divine? What is my relationship to God? Where is meaning found? How should I live? How do I live as a sexual being? What do we do with evil? How do I decide between right and wrong? What shall we do about poverty or environmental degradation? Some of these texts will be prescriptive; they use writing as a way of ordering or more closely following an ideal spiritual life. Others will be reflective; they use language as a way of making meaning of one’s own or another’s spiritual journey. Others will be scholarly; they analyze the spiritual writings of others and consider how meaning is constructed in these texts. Besides reading (because it’s hard to find a good writer who is not also a good reader) we will write a lot: short reflective response papers, your own rule of life paper, a spiritual life interview paper and an academic research paper on a spiritual giant. Authors include: Desert Fathers and Mothers, Benedict of Nursia, Teresa of Avila, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Annie Dillard, Wendell Berry. 

ENGL 113.10 Writing Your Life
Relative freedom of choice, plenty of interaction among peers and between students and prof, and multiple opportunities to revise writings before final evaluation will headline this workshop-driven writing course. Choices will include what to write about and how much to revise after initial submissions. With final works to be collected in a portfolio at semester’s end, students will not only learn more about themselves by writing, but also about the worlds of others around them and how to communicate effectively in various modes (narrative, informative, investigative and persuasive), for various audiences (informal to formal), and to serve various purposes (to entertain, inform, persuade, inspire). The course’s readings and activities will suggest many options and inspire creative possibilities. People who like, or are willing to learn to like, examining and expressing what is important to them; who, with acclimation and practice, will not be bashful about discussing such things in critically thoughtful ways; and who do not procrastinate will thrive best in this self-motivated course.

ENGL 113.12 Space and Place
In the film Fight Club, the narrator asks, “If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?”

In this workshop-based course we’ll explore environments — how do we define our environments and how do they define us? How have the rooms where you’ve slept, the trees you’ve climbed, the school hallways you’ve walked impacted who you are, who you’re still becoming? You’ll read as a writer as you study and discuss fiction and nonfiction texts rooted in place and intricately tied to setting. And, through writing, you’ll explore and discover (possibly re-discover) the places and perspectives that shape you.

As first-year students in a new setting, you’ll focus on the process of writing. Your collection of polished work will inspire confidence in your ability and serve as a solid foundation for the writing you’ll do throughout college and beyond.

Special Topics (Upper-Level ENGL Courses)
English Upper-level section descriptions — Fall 2017

Several upper-level ENGL courses consist of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below. To see course details, including dates, times and professors, please use the Registrar's course scheduler.

ENGL 373.01 Shakespeare’s Plays
Many of Shakespeare’s plays explore what it means to be treated as an outsider. Studying these plays can guide us in questioning the justice of societies where women are treated as possessions, Jewish merchants are ridiculed and military commanders are questioned because of the color of their skin. In this course, we will work our way together through several plays, reading and watching and studying and arguing about the meaning we find in them. We will examine both the historical and literary contexts of the plays, studying the plays as literature and as performance pieces, and assessing various critical approaches’ insights into the plays.

ENGL 373.02 Adventures in the American Novel 
Whether you think it originated in the eighteenth century with the likes of Robinson Crusoe or Pamela, or in the mists of global antiquity in the stories exchanged by traders and pilgrims, the novel — defined as a long fictional narrative in prose rather than poetry — is the form of literature most likely to be read: for entertainment, for escape, or (best of all) for what it continues to teach us about human life. But suppose we look at novels — well known or obscure, high-class or popular — in historical context? How do some of the best-known American novels reflect their cultural matrix — and how does the novelistic treatment of a given theme alter significantly over time? How do early forms of the novel — especially the romantic, gothic or picaresque — adapt to new circumstances? How, for example, does Black Water (1992) by Joyce Carol Oates continue the tradition of Susannah Rowson’s Charlotte Temple (1791), with its warnings to young women? How might Stephen King’s Pet Sematary (1983) draw on gothic patterns prominent in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables (1851)? How does the picaresque model — the adventures of a rascal — persist in novels as diverse as Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851),  Harold Frederic’s The Damnation of Theron Ware (1896), J. D. Salinger’s runaway best-seller The Catcher in the Rye (1951)  or John Updike’s landmark Rabbit, Run (1960)? What links the animal world of Mary O’Hara’s My Friend Flicka (1941) — not, I insist, a book for children — to William Faulkner’s gem of a novella, The Bear (1942)? And how does racial outrage unfold from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) to Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987)?

REQUIREMENTS: Lots of reading, obviously (course texts will be chosen from among those listed above); informal reactions for every novel assigned; four critical papers, usually comparative; one semester-long research project.

ENGL 373.03 Adolescent/Children’s Literature
Children’s/Adolescent Literature will allow the student to learn to love to read again; to once again remember and use their imagination and creativity. The course will consist of approximately 70 percent global literature, and will focus on the United States, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Nepal, Rwanda and other African nations, as well as the Dominican Republic and Latino literature for adolescents. The goal for the course will be learning the difference between good and excellent quality adolescent literature, and the writing of a final literary theory based on our reactions, discussions in class and class handouts. The class is enjoyable, and the student will learn to be totally engaged with the works, rather than always analyzing them. Whatever your major, the course is a valuable part of becoming involved as a global student, for the writings will affect you totally as a reader (emotions, intellect and empathetic understanding of ourselves and other cultures.)

English 375.01 Contemporary Black Women Writers
Black women’s bodies exist in liminal spaces as Black women were, and in many cases continue to remain, focal points of repugnant attraction. Slave narratives such as Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl reveal white men’s simultaneous fascination with and brutalization of Black women’s bodies. Clearly, while some saw the Black female body as a physical manifestation of their innermost desires, others saw these bodies as threats to white patriarchy and the “cult of true womanhood,” and yet others vacillated between these two responses. As a result of various injustices aimed at them and their bodies, Black people in general — and Black women in particular — have relied on their faith — in writing, in Christ, in community — to maintain their resilience.

Thus, this course will focus on Black women writers and their explorations of healing, salvation, radical reconciliation and self-discovery. Among other concerns, students will be expected to consider a variety of questions including, but not limited to, the following: How do Black women writers shape and reshape standardized notions of healing, salvation, reconciliation and/or self-discovery?

Student-scholars in this course will read a variety of creative works (novels, short stories, poetry and drama) and critical work (essays, criticism and theory) to help unpack and inform their study of Black women writers, Black feminist and womanist theologies, and black feminist and womanist theories. Enrollees will navigate through the evolution of Black women’s writing from the late 20th century to the contemporary moment to understand the various ways Black women’s identities are formed and marshaled. 

ENGL 495 Advanced Studies in Creative Writing
This course may be titled Multi-Genre, but a truer title would be Hybrid-Genre. And what’s that? Is that even possible for fiction and nonfiction? Beyond the prose poem, how can poetry and fiction blend, or nonfiction and poetry? In this class, we’ll press into these questions, spending much of our time looking at and thinking about (the craft issues of and techniques within) blurring the boundaries of genre as we’ve come to know them. By reading and creating hybrid-genre work, we’ll become more aware of how genres blur, collapse and overlap. The goal is to advance your writing skills in what you consider your primary genre as well as a secondary (and perhaps tertiary!) genre; certainly you’ll expand your comfort level(s) and skill sophistication in more than one as you work to merge fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction. You’ll also take on a visual-hybrid piece, mixing visual art with the written (or spoken) word. You and the professor will individually determine your final writing project, comprised of multiple genres, so that you can work on what you’ve long wanted to or dream something new up; you’ll work diligently on this project, revising its elements radically over the semester. You can expect plenty of reading in a variety of (mixed!) genres, weekly small group meetings, and workshops to share your own writing as well as presentations of award-winning hybrid-genre pieces, including a novel-in-verse, a “memoir” that’s not autobiographical, documentary-poetics, lyric essays and a  book of “poetry” that folds out like an accordion.   

Students have considerable latitude in the order in which they take their English classes. However, keep in mind a few general principles that will help you make the most of your education at Hope:

  • Take ENGL 248 and/or 253 as early as possible. These are foundational courses in our curriculum.
  • English 113 or the equivalent is a prerequisite to all other writing courses.
  • Students considering an English major should consult with the department chairperson or another faculty member in the department before beginning to take upper-level English classes for help in deciding about the most appropriate course selections.
  • Students preparing for careers in elementary and secondary school teaching should consult the Department of Education for detailed interpretation of major requirements for teacher certification.