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.
While our curriculum provides majors the specialized courses they need, it also seeks to meet the needs of all students pursuing the broad aims of a liberal education. Courses in literature and writing help develop students' abilities to read, to think and to express themselves logically, coherently and imaginatively.
- 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 — Spring 2017
ENGL 113.01 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 113.02 Activism: Whose Lives Matter
We’ve all seen bumper stickers — a kind of sound bite — that appeal to our sense of right and wrong or make a plea for our allegiance to a cause. (A personal favorite: “If you love Jesus, work for justice. Anybody can honk.”) And while a bumper sticker can deliver a “zinger,” it’s not the best forum for carefully addressing complicated issues. What kind of writing might instead call us to attention or offer a compelling argument? What kind of writing can ask us to consider our hidden agendas, our subconscious mentalities and the impact these have on others?
By drawing on a variety of texts and genres, this course will center around works that explore contemporary issues of social justice — or injustice, as the case may be. We’ll be thinking specifically about the worth of a human life — whether certain lives are valued over others. We’ll read powerful texts, watch documentaries and welcome guest speakers. Written assignments will highlight the act of writing as a potentially powerful and creative force for social change. By connecting with a local nonprofit organization throughout the semester, your writing projects will involve research on a social issue that’s addressed right here in Holland, Michigan; you will work with these non-profits for several hours over the course of the semester as an activist-writer. Such engagement will provide a springboard for you to explore in writing what you’re experiencing in your “field work.” You will turn in weekly journals, meet in small groups, hone your skills in grammar and reading analysis, and write and rewrite a handful of essays.
Bumper stickers may catch our attention, but learning to catch and sustain a reader’s interest — and call her to action — is a serious skill that will serve you well outside the classroom. In this course, you’ll go beyond bumper sticker mentality to learning the art of responding thoughtfully, meaningfully and thoroughly to tough social issues in our world — starting right outside your dorm door.
ENGL 113.03 and 113.10 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 pieces of “survival” literature. Actual titles will be selected from the following works: In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton (nonfiction), Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody (nonfiction), The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (nonfiction), Alive by Piers Paul Read (nonfiction), A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beal (nonfiction) and/or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (dystopian fiction).
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 113.04 Writing Thoughtfully
In this English 113 class you’ll have the opportunity to slow down and explore what’s important to you, engage in meaningful conversation with others and connect with the world around you. Ultimately, the goal of this class is to give you time and space to prepare for academic writing. We’ll spend a great deal of time writing, researching, reading and — most importantly — listening to what others have to say.
ENGL 113.06 Money Changes Everything
The readings and discussion in this course will consider the effects, positive and negative, that the pursuit of money and the possession of it or lack of it have on the quality of life and the human spirit. The broad questions about money that we will explore are:
Can we buy happiness?
- Are rich people happier than poor people?
- Does wealth increase contentment regardless of social class?
How does money shape relationships?
- Can dramatic changes in personal income level bring people together? Tear them apart?
- Does economic hardship lead to a higher incidence of domestic violence?
Can huge differences in wealth be justified?
- Does the income gap square with our ideal of being “born equal”?
- Is our long-held belief that hard work guarantees the good life still true?
Has money blinded us to higher values?
- Where does the pursuit of money fit in with the tenets of various religions? Is it becoming a religion in itself?
- Have we let money override things we claim to care about, such as good parenting, love of country, and sportsmanship?
You will read a wide variety of thought provoking articles. These readings will be a springboard for discussion and serve as models for your essays. During in-class workshops, you will learn to apply specific writing style and revision techniques to your papers. You will polish your “works in progress” throughout the semester and submit them in a portfolio for a final grade at the end of the term.
Note: Due to the numerous in-class exercises, it would be difficult to function without a laptop computer.
ENGL 113.07 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.
ENGL 113.08 Who Are You?
(The Who had it right.) Though fifty years or so have traveled by – mostly in the fast lane – we could still say that in 2016–2017 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 1960’s and 1970’s. “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 113.09 Crichton’s Jurassic Park
Have you seen that classic movie Jurassic Park? Want to read the book? In this course we’ll read Jurassic Park and two other novels by Michael Crichton, and we’ll watch the film adaptations of at least two of these novels. The stories themselves can generate topics for a series of essays written during the semester; the novel/film comparisons can serve as part of a discussion of the factors that influence the process of revision. Students will have the opportunity to revise their essays throughout the semester (but not, I think, into cinematographic form).
ENGL 113.11 and 113.12 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.
- Special Topics (Upper-Level ENGL Courses)
English Upper-level section descriptions — Spring 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 356.01 Digital Storytelling
Digital storytelling allows you to merge traditional art and craft of creative nonfiction with diverse digital media, potentially engaging many kinds of audiences all over the globe. But to succeed, writers must reconsider how to construct their work in new ways, using audio, visual, video, interconnected and other tools. This class focuses on creative nonfiction, including such things as memoir, personal essay, portraits and literary journalism. It is not only for creative writers, but also for educators, community organizers, scientists, ministers, journalists, politicians, non-profit managers, marketers, fundraisers and anyone hoping to bring writing to life in digital media. Learning how to write with images, energy, tension and pattern—and then how to convey that writing through the medium of digital storytelling, broadens anyone’s valuable skill set.
- We will explore many forms of digital storytelling, from among such things as curation,
snapshot stories, audio documentary, narrated short films, mapping and building web
- We will critically examine the digital work of others, “reading” as “writers” to critically
examine how digital narrative is constructed, including how narrators position themselves
and their audiences.
- We will develop problem-solving skills by tackling technology challenges, seeking resources to solve our problems, sharing tips and techniques with each other. Knowing how to solve your own technology problems will prove a valuable life skill.
This class is workshop-based, centered on our reading and writing of digital stories and scholarship about digital storytelling. Together we will participate in workshops and Story Circles, through which students will share their works in progress. Each student will create a portfolio of digital stories. All digital stories will be published to members of the course. Students will collaborate on a final, public exhibition of the best work produced in class.
This is a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) class, and no specialized equipment is required. All students need is a fairly recent laptop, software for editing audio, photos and video (all of which can be gotten for free), and a cell phone or digital camera for capturing both still and video images.
ENGL 373.01 Novels of Adventure
Well, obviously that could mean anything: What novel isn’t about adventure, at least in some sense of the word? But this course will look at a particular kind of adventure, the crossing over into new worlds, strange worlds, as we encounter them in the great tradition of the American novel. To begin with, we will look at Americans abroad, drawing on classic American writers but choosing their lesser-known works: Hawthorne’s The Marble Faun (1860), a story of American artists in Rome; Henry James’s The American (1877), an account of a protagonist strikingly named Newman, who stumbles into a darksome labyrinth of European intrigue; Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), on the surface a fanciful tale of time travel but arguably also an indictment of imperialism; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night (1934), set in Europe but, as we now know, clocking the course of his wife’s mental illness. We’ll consider how the international theme plays out in “middlebrow fiction,” probably through Benedict and Nancy Freedman’s Mrs. Mike (1947), which follows a Boston girl into the Canadian wilderness. But we’ll also let ourselves explore the strangest of strange worlds, the world of the psyche, as the young minister in Harold Frederic’s The Damnation of Theron Ware (1895) finds himself attracted to characters whose beliefs stray far afield from his; and we may even dare to stalk the alien territories of the Gothic. And finally, as we need not be told, crossing borders often means borders of racial and ethnic identity: a journey that, as in Richard Wright’s unforgettable Native Son (1940), may lead to tragedy — but perhaps also, as in Sinclair Lewis’s Kingsblood Royal (1947) or Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club (2013), to a new identity that transcends boundaries and claims the whole world as home.
ENGL 375.02 Global Race Matters Fiction and Film
Race Matters, Cornel West’s pivotal book on African-American issues, opens the door to exploring race relations and tensions throughout the world yesterday and today. This course investigates issues of colonialism, physical and economic slavery, and oppression stemming from racial prejudices between and within races. A few classes may also focus on related issues dealing with ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. A mingling of the genres of fiction and nonfiction and film examines ways in which authors and directors expose and explain injustices and exude hope for significant improvements.
Why am I intrigued by this topic? In 50+ years of college teaching (mostly at Hope), I have been both discouraged and encouraged by ways in which racial tensions and similar issues have been debated. It is time for thoughtful resolutions. Fiction and nonfiction and film have much to teach us about reality.
Most of the following fiction and nonfiction books (with their authors’ names listed) will be read in this course:
- Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
- Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
- Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
- Ta-Nahesi Coates, Between the World and Me
- Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
- Dave Eggers, Zeitoun
- Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
- Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
- Art Spiegelman, Maus
Most of the following films (with their directors' names listed) will be viewed in this course:
- Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
- Francis Ford Coppola, Apocalypse Now
- Clint Eastwood, Invictus
- Chris Eyre, Smoke Signals
- Paul Haggis, Crash
- David Lean, A Passage to India
- Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing
- Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
- Alain Resnais, Night and Fog
ENGL 375.03 American Lit: I’s Have It-First
The goal of this class is to deepen our understanding of American literature by focusing on the role of the first-person narrator. We’ll read across a few genres (memoir, poetry and fiction) to demonstrate that this structural choice has deeply impacted the trajectory of our canon. The class explores why so many of our canonical texts feature a first-person narrator — even when the narrator plays an ostensibly tiny background part, as in William Faulkner’s “Rose for Emily,” or in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. How do authors establish or undermine the credibility of their first-person narrators? And has that process changed since the advent of confessional poetry and the uptick of memoir? What’s up with all the first-person narrators who seem to play the role of creepy voyeur? Why do memoirs typically outsell novels? Long before the identity politics of the 1980s, American readers were ready to promote the first-person memoirist to the status of Ambassador, as if the speaker were the official voice of the group with whom he or she had identified. Thus the I became We, and then They. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this way of reading? Together we'll discuss the unique contribution of the first-person narrator to the trajectory of American literary cultures.
- We will explore many forms of digital storytelling, from among such things as curation, snapshot stories, audio documentary, narrated short films, mapping and building web sites.
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.