/ 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 

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.


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 a travel log of short observation/reflection papers, a personal travel narrative essay, 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 — Spring 2019

ENGL 113.01 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 113.02 Wit, Wisdom, Wizardry
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 various ways 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.

ENG 113.03 and 16 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 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 “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, learn much and have some interesting discussions.

ENG 113.04 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 113.05 Power, Perception and Difference
In this section of English 113, we will focus on the over-arching theme of “Power, Perception and Difference.” Here the goal is two-fold: to become better close-readers and critical analysts of (1) texts and (2) the world around us. We will also be reading key composition and rhetoric concepts from excerpts of Diane Hacker's A Writer's Reference and Gail Stygall’s Reading Context, to focus on many key issues such as critical reading and developing argumentative and compositional positions. Stygall’s compositional book will also cover practical issues like time management and reading practices, among many other helpful, well-informed and researched suggestions.

The essays written by Michel Foucault and Mary Louise Pratt, respectively, will give us a very broad and challenging range of ideas, definitions and terms to grapple with intellectually and practically, for both academic and “real-life” contexts. Also, in light of Hope College’s Mission Statement, and our commitment to researching and teaching on issues of culture, diversity and race (Phelps Scholars Program, IDS courses, American Ethnic Studies Program, etc.), the essays we read and write will serve as a foundation to consider issues of race, ethnicity and difference. These issues will come to the fore when reading and writing on Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? We will also bring all the readings, discussions, and critical thoughts together with Gene Yang’s ever-popular graphic novel, American Born Chinese, focusing on a Chinese immigrant family from the San Francisco (Bay) area, and the life of an “ABC” or “American Born Chinese.”

ENG 113.06 Technology and Society
Once upon a time, writing itself was a revolutionary new technology. Perhaps it is still the most revolutionary of all. Many later technologies, from printing to social media, have reshaped and amplified its impact. As a course intended to equip you with essential writing skills and practices, this one will take as its subject matter the relationships between technology and society. It is part of a curricular pathway on technology and society that also includes Engineering 100: Introduction to Engineering and Computer Science 225: Software Design and Implementation. Our reading and writing will provide opportunities to think about a wide range of technologies and how they shape society and are shaped by it. We will focus especially on digital technologies and how they are changing the ways we live, read and write now.

ENG 113.07 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.

ENGL 113.08 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 113.09 and 15 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 113.10 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

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.

Special Topics (Upper-Level ENGL Courses)
English Upper-level section descriptions — Spring 2019

Several upper-level ENGL courses consist of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions will be listed here as they become available. To see course details, including dates, times and professors, please use the Registrar's course schedule.

ENG 270: British Literature to 1800
View the ENG 270 course description in the catalog.

ENG 354: Intermediate Creative Writing: Fiction
View the ENG 354 course description in the catalog.

ENG 375: Young Adult Ethnic American Literature
In this course, we will analyze ethnic American literature for young adults. The goal will be to explore a wide range of perspectives, from a young girl growing up in Chicago who refuses to be perfect; a young boy growing up wondering which parts are Chinese and which American; two stories about Hispaniola (one Dominican and the other Haitian); and two surrealismo novels of young adults caught between worlds as well as familia.

This course will emphasize critical issues surrounding the renaissance of multicultural literature. Due to the novel nature of this approach, time and weight will be given to questions of intercultural production, intertextuality, historicism and diversity in America. By exploring literature for young adults in this manner, we hope to raise fundamental questions over the very essence of our world and how we see it.

Extensive reading and discussion required, as well as written responses through various critical perspectives, multimedia presentations, and a larger final project. Meets Hope College GLD credit.

ENG 455: Advanced Poetry
View the ENG 455 course description in the catalog.