/ English Department


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.

View full course information in the catalog 


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 schedule.


ENGL 113.01 Writing as a Journey
In this class, we will travel a good deal in Holland, Michigan, to borrow the words of Henry David Thoreau. We will pack up our journals and pens — looking and listening in places like the Lake Michigan dunes, ethnic supermarkets, coffee shops, art museums and cemeteries. We will think together about travel, our own experiences and dreams as well as the stories of great travel writers. We will consider writing as a journey — a process that invites exploration, experimentation, curiosity, re-routing, and finding deeper and clearer meaning along the way. Like Thoreau in his city of Concord, we even may come to see that people are righting the world in a thousand remarkable ways in Holland. Writing for this course will include multiple short observation/reflection papers, shorter essays including a travel narrative, and a research paper.

This section of English 113 is open to all students with a special invitation to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors.

English 113 Section Descriptions — Fall 2018

ENGL 113.01 and 16 Crime & 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 and 07 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. Titles include In Harm’s Way by Doug Stanton (nonfiction), The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (nonfiction) and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (dystopian fiction.)

And, speaking of survival, the 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 and shares.

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 select from different types of writing in order to create some final products, and, eventually, we’ll create a more in-depth research project.  

ENGL 113.03 Academic Writing: Feminisms
“Academic Writing: Feminisms” is a writing, reading and researching intensive course. 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.

A snapshot of the course:

  • Weeks 1–4: Introduction to Academic Writing, Templates & Information Literacy
  • Weeks 5–10: Academic Writing, Critical Analysis & Research
  • Weeks 11–14: Beyond “Traditional” Academic Writing: Digital and Professional Writing
  • Week 15: Wrapping Up & Public Showcase 

ENGL 113.04 The Wow Factor
Most of us agree that the notion of excellence helps define mediocrity. What makes some folks seem to soar above the rest? Is it effort, attitude, genetic advantage? The idea of this class is that the wow factor is worth chasing, in life and in writing. Everybody wants to be a better writer and thinker. That's one of the reasons we all sign up to go to college. But once we're there, what makes some essays pop while others underwhelm?

Although there are many kinds of writing, some are more valuable than others in college. We’ll assume, therefore, that the kinds of reading and writing assignments you’ll encounter in the next four years are appropriate target materials for this course. But we won't be looking merely to practice the usual writing skills. We'll be looking to understand — and deliver — the wow factor.

ENGL 113.05 Stephen King: Trash or Talent?
It goes without saying that Stephen King is a contemporary literary phenomenon: Since the beginning of his career in the 1970s he has averaged at least one new title a year, and his books continue to sell like candy corn at Halloween. But is King a good writer? Should his work be considered “literature” — and does it belong in the classroom? Or is it nothing more than “trash,” and his amazing popularity a dead giveaway of the depraved tastes of American society? These are some of the questions we will wrestle with in this class. But English 113 is first of all a writing course, intended to lay groundwork for your future studies. Along with “engaging students in a significant intellectual question or topic,” the stated goals for the course include “helping students improve their writing skills” and “helping students improve their library and research skills.” Expect, therefore, to do a lot of writing, mostly about King’s work or some topic related to it. Expect a number of “workshops”: class sessions on some aspect, general or technical, of writing, especially for an academic audience. Expect to compose a first-rate research paper. Expect library sessions. Expect discussion. Expect to learn.


  • Stephen King, Different Seasons
  • Stephen King, The Shining
  • Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage
  • A writing handbook, yet to be selected 

ENGL 113.06 On the Road: Travel, Place and Home
This course explores all aspects of writing — description, detail, argument, story, accuracy — with a focus on travel, place and home. We understand ourselves by what we identify as home. Where are we most at home and why? And we understand ourselves by leaving home, by getting on the road to someplace else. But what do these other places teach us? Because writers read, we will read a wide variety of texts: short stories, op-ed essays, biography, flash nonfiction. And because writing is practice, we will practice A LOT with journal entries, short assignments, essays and a final research project. We will also spend several class sessions at Van Wylen Library to learn how to find and evaluate sources. Class time will be devoted primarily to discussion and writing workshops. Come join us — and get on the road to better writing!

ENGL 113.08 Power, Perception & Difference
Can a sidewalk actually be moving with you on it? Can society influence what is “normal” or “abnormal” in one’s life without one ever knowing it? How do the acts of a person or organization have a ripple affect on one’s country or a country a globe away? Are these issues related in some way to power? Can critically investigating these questions, and issues of race, be related to composition? Conversely, how does writing make a difference on issues of race, social justice, community and the societies we live in here in the US or across the globe?

By focusing on critically thinking, discussing and writing, while also utilizing a multiple-draft writing process, this course will equip you for writing expository academic essays at both the collegiate level and beyond. We will work at organizing our ideas, creating clear and compelling arguments, utilizing scholarly support and articulating how those supporting statements relate to one’s argument. Similarly, to more fully experience “writing as a process,” we will work collaboratively, sharing our ideas, critically reading and editing each others’ works, ultimately engaging in peer workshops of our essays to create clear, complex and fully developed expository essays.

ENG 113.09 and 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 and Wendell Berry.

ENG 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. 

ENG 113.12 Creativity and the Unexpected
What are the ways and habits of creative people? How do creative people respond to adversity and the unexpected? In what ways (if any) are the insights and skills of creative people valuable during times of unexpected (or even catastrophic) change? InCreativity and the Unexpectedwe will explore these and related questions. Our reading will include The Razor’s Edge by Somerset Maugham, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, One Day of Life by Manlio Argueta, and A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo. We will watch two films, and you will be encouraged to attend exhibitions, readings, public presentations and similar events. We will have lively class discussions, and you will write four short essays, participate in a group presentation and write a longer research paper. We will utilize the workshopformat for the discussion of our work. Each student will assemble a final portfolio that will contain all five papers and a brief introductory statement. We will also receive some expert training in the use of the Van Wylen Library.

The ultimate objective of this class is to make you a better writer and critical thinker. Along the way we will have a great deal of fun, learn much and have some interesting discussions.

ENG 113.14 Academic Writing
An introduction to college-level, research-based writing across the disciplines with an emphasis on the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Students are given reading assignments, then asked to identify research questions, locate relevant sources, and develop engaging and persuasive academic essays at increasing levels of scholarly sophistication. A substantial amount of one-on-one consultation is provided in addition to class time organized around lecture, small-group discussion and peer review.

ENG 113.15 Genocide, Reconciliation and Forgiveness 
The course will focus on the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and the reconciliation and forgiveness process that is now occurring within the country. The readings, writings and research paper will be on the Genocide itself and the current reconciliation and forgiveness process that is causing Rwanda to become the leading country in Africa in terms of economic growth, stability and technology. There will also be personal reflection as we discuss reconciliation and forgiveness in each of our lives.

ENGL 113.17 Whose Lives Matter?
We’ve all seen bumper stickers — a kind of soundbyte — 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 biases and the impact these have others?

This course will center around texts of various kinds 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 potentially powerful and creative forces for social change.

By connecting with a local non-profit 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 10 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 service learning. You will turn in weekly reading responses, hone your skills in grammar and rhetorical 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, one 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 113.18 Adventures in Adolescence
This course offers a solid preparation for the writing students will do throughout their entire college career, and beyond for those pursuing graduate studies and/or many common careers. Activities, lectures and workshops are designed to give confidence to uncertain writers and to hone the skills of more experienced ones by presenting an array of tools for critical reading, writing preparation and crafting insightful text with polish. Students will also have the chance to undertake research, under specific guidelines. The information literacy skills taught in this course will empower students to seek, identify, analyze and respond to appropriate resources.

Writing in this course will take a familiar subject — adolescence — and approach it in several new lights. We will address such questions as when the idea of “the teenager” developed, what it means to have your citizenship strictly regulated by society and how adolescents in various global cultures redefine expectations for their age group. We will also look at the depiction of teenagers in popular American media, television, music and film. Students will be given a good deal of freedom to approach these topics in their own way and to think deeply about issues they may not have considered before.

This course is in large part a writing workshop. It is not a grammar course, though grammar issues may be addressed as needed. Most centrally, however, this course will teach the linked skill set of planning, drafting and revising — invaluable tools that often mean the difference between work that is just acceptable and writing that represents you in the best possible light. 

ENGL 113.19 Writing Across Genres
English 113 aims to prepare students to write successfully in college courses and beyond, especially in careers where writing is essential. As such, this course will emphasize academic rhetoric, critical literacy, writing conventions and your self-understanding as a writer. To develop these skills, we will read and compose a variety of texts for specific audiences and purposes.

This iteration of the course focuses on four genres of writing, reflected in four major units: narrative, review, analysis and research. You will write one essay in each unit, and along the way we’ll consider what makes a piece of writing successful in a given genre, how the criteria of good writing vary between genres and how to develop skills that will be transferrable to any future genre.

By the end of the course, students will:

  • Compose a variety of texts in a range of forms, equaling four major papers, numerous reflections and a portfolio of revision
  • Demonstrate rhetorical awareness of diverse audiences, situations and contexts
  • Critically think about writing and rhetoric through reading, analysis and reflection
  • Provide constructive feedback to others and incorporate feedback into their writing
  • Perform research and evaluate sources to support claims
Special Topics (Upper-Level ENGL Courses)
English Upper-level section descriptions — Fall 2018

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 schedule.

ENGL 371.01 American Writers in Paris

“Writing in Paris is one of the oldest American customs.” – Van Wyck Brooks

Paris has long held a fascination for American writers. As the world’s cultural capital, the city has been the setting for self-discovery, cross-cultural contact and artistic innovation for American writers ranging from Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century to Langston Hughes and Gertrude Stein in the 20th century. This course is an exploration and discovery of American writers who found the city, in one way or another, a powerful source of inspiration. We will read letters, documents, poetry and fiction of colonial Americans, 19th-century travelers and 20th-century adventurers, all with an eye toward understanding how the Paris/America cultural exchange shaped American self-understanding and literary expression. We will keep reading journals, as so many of our writers did while in Paris, and coursework will include two exams, a final research project and Pecha Kucha class presentations. For more information about the course, please email Prof. Dykstra and check out the Paris Stories | Grand Challenges website!

ENGL 373.01  Jane Austen and Popular Culture

ENGL 373.02 Shakespeare

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.