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.
- 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 schedule.
English 113 Section Descriptions — Spring 2018
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 soldier 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 Wit, Wisdom and Wizardy
When you have to make a difficult decision, how do you proceed? Do you carefully analyze the circumstances and rationally weigh your options? Do you cry, “It’s not my fault!” and lash out at the world that forced the decision upon you? Do you close your eyes, grit your teeth and just accept whatever wild ride you’re on, vaguely hoping for the best?
In this class, we’ll read three books together, looking at how different characters approach the process of decision-making. We’ll discuss different factors that affect their decisions, from family expectations and gender issues to friendships and special talents. We’ll write about ourselves and how we make our own decisions, as well as about these characters and what we can learn from them. Writing for this course will include daily reading responses, several short essays and a research paper.
ENGL 113.03 and 13 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 113.04 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 113.05 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.
ENGL 113.06 Writing Workshop
To improve your writing and research skills, it takes practice, practice and attention to detail. In this workshop-oriented section of English 113, we develop a series of essays incorporating themes from several novels. Tips and chapter readings from the Concise Guide to Writing also are essential to your workshop success. Especially during the weekly computer lab, you will come to see that the writing process is not so much magic as it is 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 short forms of composition in contemporary life.
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 and 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 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 113.09 and 14 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
ENG 113 10 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.
ENG 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 and Wendell Berry.
ENGL 113.12 Writing Well about What You Love
This course is designed to help you become a stronger writer. We develop and deepen your:
- Understanding of the contexts of writing
- Critical thinking about what’s observed and experienced
- Writing processes, including research
- Knowledge of the conventions of English
Everyone, even professional writers, are always developing — they always feel they can improve. This is because, like sports or music, it’s something we need to practice. If this were about improving your running or guitar, ice hockey or tuba, you’d be expected to practice a lot out side of class, right? It’s the same thing. You must practice to get better at writing.
In this class you'll read both for enjoyment and to discover the qualities of good writing. Like sports or music, you need to watch the sport or listen to the music in order to improve. Reading is that watching and listening. You must read to be better at writing.
You, as an individual and as a group, are central to this course. You will write about what interests you in your world and experiences — not necessarily what interests me. I am not the judge of your subject. I will help you develop as a writer, learn strategies to improve your writing, and develop skills in researching and editing that you can apply to all other areas of your life.
ENGL 113.15 and 16 War in Words
War is the subject of some of the very oldest and most enduring human writings. The hero of the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, the earliest known major literary work, longs for the life of a warrior. Roughly 1,300 years later, Homer set The Iliad against the backdrop of the Greeks’ siege of Troy. The Written Torah, the Old Testament, has many accounts of battle. In this course, we’ll sample war as portrayed in the fiction, poetry and drama of English literature from the Middle Ages until the present. We will use this sampling as a means to learn to read, think and write more perceptively and clearly. At whatever level your writing skills are now, the goals will be to improve them, foster intellectual rigor and help you become a more thoughtful person. We’ll be concentrating on producing expository writing that is substantive, organized, stylistically appropriate for its audience and mechanically sound.
ENGL 113.17 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? In “Creativity and the Unexpected” we will explore these and related questions. Our reading will include that classic book on creativity, The Artist’s Way (25th Anniversary Edition) by Julia Cameron, and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2nd Edition) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. 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 “workshop” format 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 and some interesting discussions.
- 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 schedule.
ENG 295.01 Vocational Discernment
A two-hour class where students design their post-graduate career goals. The course begins with the premise that English majors want to have careers where writing, creativity, thoughtfulness and word-geekiness are part and parcel of their everyday work reality. This class will prepare students by asking them first to dream and then to pave the way towards those dreams.
This process for a well-designed career path will involve working closely with the Career Development Center (CDC). With the expertise of the CDC, students will smith a well-written resume, articulate their skills via social media, learn the art of networking and hone their interview skills.
Using design principles, this course will teach students how to construct their career path by learning how to prototype and how to keep building forward. This will be accomplished by meeting with, learning from and getting mentored by recent Hope College alumni. Hope has alumni in entrepreneurship and non-profit, alums who work in design and publishing, and alums who make writing their work in a myriad of fields. Alums really, really, really, really want students to succeed. They offer guidance and mentorship that is invaluable.
This course is intended for all students who want to begin paving the path to their career goals.
ENGL 295.02 Science Writing
The ability to communicate science is just as important as the ability to do science.
Science writers bridge the gap between the laboratory and the public. Their job is to tell the story of science in such a way that ordinary, intelligent readers will understand the significance and implications of scientific discovery. This is an incredibly important job, since public understanding is the key to public support and funding.
The goal of this course is to further your training in the field of science writing. Revolutionary changes in science and technology also call for similar revolutionary changes in the way we teach writing about science. As such, this course is based on an integrated approach (modeling, scaffolding, apprenticeship) that takes your love of science and begins the process of training you in science literacy. The reading and writing processes you acquire in this course will allow you to see ways to augment your career goals and/or lead to new directions.
The product of this two credit-hour, full-semester course will be a magazine-length article (for a general audience) based on your research. You will be expected to bring to the course a scientific understanding of the subject you choose to write about.
This course is intended for students majoring in any of the natural and applied sciences, psychology or computer science.
ENGL 356.01 Novels
Many people who want to write novels start but never finish. This course provides you with the techniques and support to structure a novel and then write one — a complete first draft of a minimum of 50,000 words, in only four weeks! (Yes, really.)
The structure of the course is roughly this: until Winter Break, we’ll prepare. This means we will study story structure, craft, writing technology and building support networks. You’ll read (and watch films) like writers, studying and practicing structure and technique. You will also learn to write in a different sort of software designed to support the way writers work (and way better than a regular word processor). Assessment will be on your gathering and working with this information.
In between breaks, you’ll draft your novel in all its reckless, imaginative, energetic wonder (using the model of National Novel Writing Month — check it out at www.nanowrimo.org). With weekly pep rallies and individual conferences, you’ll complete a short novel of about 50,000 words (yes, you will!). In this part of the course, we’ll value enthusiasm and perseverance over craft. Assessment? Because of the limited time, the only things that will matter during this month are output quantity and the quality of your dedication to your work and that of your classmates. You’ll have permission to lower your expectations, risk, experiment and see what you can do. To build without tearing down.
In the last five weeks we’ll focus on re-visioning our works, both at the level of story and scene. We’ll study and experiment with issues including narrative structure, characterization, point of view, setting, significant detail and the like. Here you’ll be assessed on your command of the content of our reading and your willingness to experiment with re-vision. We’ll also present polished chunks of our drafted work for advanced workshops. You’ll be assessed on your polished work as well as on the quality of your analysis of other students’ works. We’ll also spend time learning how to approach the publishing world.
Is your blood tingling at the very thought? Great! Recruit some friends. Remember that permission of instructor is needed for this class. (Everyone is eligible — I just want to talk to you so you know what you’re getting into!) Email me at email@example.com for an appointment.
ENGL 356.02 Creative Writing in the Community
Richard Hugo famously suggested that a creative writing class “may be one of the last places you can go where your life still matters.” But why should such a potentially powerful space only be available on college campuses or in graduate programs? Part of a wide-sweeping social justice movement but one with deep roots in the (albeit brief) history of creative writing, classes within the community — and on its margins — that prioritize writing and reading poetry, creative nonfiction essays and/or stories can have beautiful and long-lasting impact not just for participants but also for facilitators. In this course, we’ll explore what it means to enact a creative writing curriculum in and for the community, why we would seek to do so, and where you — yes, you! — are interested in engaging. You’ll have a chance to connect with a community partner, create your curriculum and then facilitate classes with real, live participants. You’ll also be doing writing of your own. You’ll be reading poetry, creative nonfiction essays and stories.
And while you’re at it, you might just uncover a calling: to work with the elderly, with the incarcerated, with those learning English, in the non-profit sector, in churches or libraries or schools. You’ll certainly gain some “real-world” experience.
So come prepared to invest in and help create places where your and others’ lives matter and to do some great writing and discover other great writers along the way.
ENGL 371.01 Beatnik Literature
Are you ready to “Howl”? This fourth-in-a-lifetime (mine, at least) course on “The Beat Generation” explores the “beaten down,” “beat up,” and “beatific” aspects of many nonconformist, rootless, drugged and searching American writers of the 1950s and 1960s. Secular and sacred aspects of the Beatnik movement receive critical attention and a fresh look at what makes the works durable or degrading more than half a century later.
Harvey Pekar’s recently released The Beats, a graphic history with works by 11 artists, serves as an excellent introduction. Classic and controversial memoirs, novels and plays nestle next to each other: On the Road and The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey, Minor Characters: A Beat Memoir by Joyce Johnson, How I Became Hettie Jones by Hettie Jones and Dutchman by Amiri Baraka. Poems by Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Joanne Kyger, Denise Levertov, Michael McClure and Kenneth Rexroth sidle up to nonfiction and essays by William Burroughs, Carolyn Cassady, Ann Charters, Edie Parker Kerouac and Norman Mailer.
The course briefly examines early influences on the Beat writers from British Romantics (Blake and Shelley), American Romantics (Thoreau and Whitman) and American Modernists (Gertrude Stein and William Carlos Williams). Musical connections (John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Bob Dylan, John Cage, the Beatles and the Grateful Dead) get well-deserved attention, and campy old films about Beatniks (High School Confidential, The Subterraneans, The Cool and the Crazy) show cinema at its worst.
Very recent films (Howl with James Franco, Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe, Big Sur with Anthony Edwards, On the Road with Garrett Hedlund) reveal the continued popularity of this era. Beat celebrators (e.g., Anne Waldman in The Beat Book) and Beat debunkers (e.g., Norman Podhoretz in “The Know-Nothing Bohemians”) get equal coverage. The squeamish need not apply; some material is R-rated. Four credit hours.
- Reading: Moderate to heavy
- Writing: Journal pieces, two analytical papers, research project
- Evaluation: Numerous methods of class participation and a variety of writing assignments
ENGL 373.01 Novels of Adventure
What novel isn’t about some sort of adventure? This course, though, will focus on American novels of the twentieth century — some classic, some offbeat — that recount adventures of many kinds: across the country, into other lands, into new cultures or perhaps just into the strange world of forbidden territory or maybe just the recesses of the mind. Texts may include some or all of the following: Harold Frederic, The Damnation of Theron War (1896); Nella Larsen, Quicksand and Passing (1929); Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929); John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath (1939); Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust (1939); William Faulkner, Go Down, Moses (1942); Mary O’Hara, My Friend Flicka and Thunderhead (1941, 1943); Jack Kerouac, On the Road (1957); John Updike, Rabbit, Run (1960); Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977); Stephen King, Misery (1987) — an appropriate finale, since it’s a novel about novels. And in the course of the course, we’ll undertake our own adventure — traversing the nation, exploring a variety of social structures and contemplating — sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes with fear and loathing — the countless geographies of the human mind. No tests, but critical essays on each novel, single-page reaction papers and a 10-page research project. Four credit hours.
ENGL 375.01 Walt Whitman's America
Seeking to fight hatred and to foster unity in the midst of a growing national crisis, Whitman celebrated the American belief that our greatest strengths are our diversity and our commitment to individual freedom. Still the nation's most famous and influential poet, Whitman claimed to incarnate the United States, a "teeming nation of nations." And Leaves of Grass was not a book, Whitman said, but "the man himself." For nearly 40 years, across the chasm of the Civil War, Whitman's poetry and prose addressed the monstrous evils of slavery and genocide, nationalism and humanism, heteronormativity and unconstrained sexuality, religious orthodoxy and the quest for transcendence, and — perhaps most of all — the vocational struggle between conformity and the freedom to become your authentic self, against all opposition.
ENGL 495 Creative Writing: Comics and The Graphic Novel
Take this course and you’ll learn to:
- Construct dynamic stories that people want to read
- Design visual presentations of your narratives (no drawing ability needed!)
- Workshop your stuff with your colleagues and improve
- Explain the basic history of this medium in the United States
- Appreciate the rich diversity of the graphic novel (or comics) medium, particularly as a place where marginalized artists have found publication
- Discuss and demonstrate the sophisticated techniques of sequential art
- Continue reading and research in this increasingly popular and artistic medium
- Understand and discuss how this medium relates to traditional literature and to film
- Proudly show off the sequential art you have created!!
There will be reading, research, discussion, written analyses, presentations and lots of creative writing: scripts, sketches, storyboards. You’ll learn tons about sequential art and you’ll learn tons about making sequential art!
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.