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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 (ENGLISH 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 .

SPRING 2024

113.02, 03, 04, 09, 13 Expository Writing
A course designed to encourage students to explore ideas through reading, discussion and writing. The emphasis is on development of writing abilities. The area of exploration varies with individual instructors. EW

113.01, 15 Outdoor Writing
Welcome to the trailhead! This outdoor-themed section of English 113 aims to equip students with the writing foundation needed to journey far in both education and life. In learning to write with prose that is concise, powerful and persuasive, we will study literature inspired by the outdoors and make a semester-long exploration based on one question: How do people and places shape one another? For the first third of the semester, we will ask this question on an individual level as we read narrative accounts of men and women in remote and wild places. During the rest of the semester, we will explore this question on a societal level, studying essays and arguments about the relevance of the environment to humanity鈥檚 health and well-being. We will read fiction and nonfiction by modern outdoor writers 鈥 including Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson, Latria Graham and Edward Abbey 鈥 to study the intricacies of language and how to craft strong, thesis-driven works. We will learn the art of persuasive research writing as we read Richard Louv鈥檚 Last Child in the Woods, which crafts a strong argument about the dangers of separating young people from nature. All the while, we will learn to write with specificity and authority, gaining the kinds of research and critical-thinking skills necessary to thrive in academia. Throughout the course of the semester, we will also venture off-campus a few times to practice writing with specificity and imagery in outdoor areas. EW

113.05 Analyzing Empathy
In this course, we will use the complex and sometimes controversial concept of empathy as a basis for the study of the conventions and possibilities of academic writing. Through a variety of readings 鈥 primarily essays and short fiction 鈥 we will explore the challenges that face writers endeavoring to define empathy and to determine how it can contribute to contemporary society. We will begin with texts that depict or challenge common methods, such as personal observation and storytelling, that allow us to engage with the feelings and experiences of others. We will then turn toward more specific cases, including works of historical drama and speculative fiction that attempt to give readers access to thoughts and emotions that might be drastically different from their own experiences. Throughout the course, we will think critically about this subject matter and the questions about it that our readings might raise: What are the limits of empathy? When might an empathetic approach create harm instead of helping? To what extent is it the responsibility of writers to create an easy sense of connection for their readers, and to what extent is it the responsibility of readers to engage with perspectives that differ from their own? Is empathy valuable as an abstract feeling, or does it only take on value when it translates into action? EW

113.06 Stephen King: Trash or Talent?

鈥淚 think with the best writing you can actually feel the writer鈥檚 joy, the writer鈥檚 vision, or something like that.鈥 鈥擲tephen King

Stephen King is a contemporary literary phenomenon: Since the beginning of his career in the 1970s, he has averaged at least one new title per year, and his books continue to sell like candy corn at Halloween. Some people dismiss his work as trash, just low-quality pop cult horror stories; even King has jokingly referred to himself as a 鈥渟alami writer.鈥 But other readers insist that throughout his page-turner fiction King addresses serious, even urgent concerns. What are we afraid of, both as a society and as flesh-and-goosebumped individuals? What are the problems of family life and interpersonal relations? How does American society deal with racial prejudice? What about the scourge of alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse? How has our history made us what we are as a nation? What explains our perennial attraction to the supernatural, even in its more ghoulish manifestations? How has the literature of the past 鈥 especially the Gothic tradition, spawned in 1764 and still proliferating 鈥 infiltrated the literature of the present?

These are some of the questions we will address in a course that is at its core an introduction to college-level writing: how to form sentences in a variety of modes, how to incorporate appropriate punctuation, how to compose a coherent and convincing academic essay, and how to produce a research project you can be proud of. King鈥檚 novels The Shining (1977) and The Green Mile (1996) will be our foundational texts, accompanied by a selection of shorter fiction that demonstrates his relation to other works of the supernatural. And we will also contemplate the transmogrification of his scenarios into film and other media (comic books, cartoons, even opera). EW

113.07 Well-Being
In this course we will critically think, read and write about the questions: What is wellness, and what does it mean to be well? We鈥檒l consider mental health, spiritual welfare, sexual health, mindfulness and social thriving. We鈥檒l also take a critical eye to the 鈥渨ellness鈥 industry and ask whether it is possible to sell well-being. This course is designed to help you polish your skills at writing essays in Standard Edited American English, which we do through practice. You will explore the tools available through Van Wylen Library and prepare to meet future writing and research assignments in college courses. This class is highly participatory, so be ready to talk and share your work. EW

113.08, 12 Academic Writing
This course is an introduction to the process of academic writing, designed to prepare you for the writing you鈥檒l do in college. We鈥檒l focus on the conventions of the argumentative essay genre, writing on a topic chosen by you. We鈥檒l pay particular attention to (1) discourse communities, the groups and contexts in which writing takes place, (2) rhetoric, using words and other elements to create and communicate meaning, and (3) research, seeking out the ideas of those who have gone before us to inform our own work. EW

113.10, 16 Language and Culture
This writing course explores how language creates and interprets culture. We will learn about how our attitudes about language shape our realities and about how language mediates the way we understand ourselves and our cultures. Readings and projects will cover a range of topics including the ways that language and culture influence one another, the rhetoric of social media and analyses of cultural phenomena. Students will also develop research projects in an area of personal interest. EW

113.11, 14 Rhetoric in the Arts
The arts are concerned with beauty, but in their pursuit of beauty they often offer both implicit and explicit critiques of the society in which they are practiced. Thus, the arts can become a site of contention, power struggles and battles over interpretation. In other words, the arts have the capacity to provoke interesting and complicated rhetorical situations. In this class we will look at how the arts possess a persuasive force of their own, and how their appeals to the intellect and emotions combined have a unique capacity for provoking spirited responses and debates. Students will not only read and respond to selected texts and engage in research projects related to the arts; they will also visit museums in the Holland area and/or attend arts events, experiences on which they will reflect through writing. EW

Special Topics (Upper-level Courses)

Several English courses consist of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below. This is not a complete list of available English classes for the semester. For a complete list of upcoming classes or to see course details, including dates, times and professors, please see .

SPRING 2024

ENGL 110: English Literature Themes I

  • Section 01: Novel Rivers
    Heraclitus, an ancient Ephesian philosopher, once said, 鈥淣o one steps in the same river twice, for it鈥檚 not the same river, and he鈥檚 not the same man.鈥 This suggests that people and places are continually transforming. To explore this transformation, students will read four coming-of-age novels that take place along rivers and wrestle with the following questions. What does it mean to come of age? What could the process of maturity look like, and is one still the same individual by the end of it? What does this look like in various geographies for individuals of different cultures? What comes along with coming of age? And how do places age and change alongside people? Students will venture through the river-set readings with these questions in mind, all the while developing foundational skills in analyzing literature. This course fulfills the following Anchor Plan course requirements: Human Creative Perspectives and Arts and Humanities 100. AH1, HCP

  • Section 02: Faith and Belief in Literature
    This course explores literature dealing with faith and belief. We will examine how writers have creatively grappled with some of the knottiest and deepest questions of life: how beliefs shape our lives; how stories we tell affect what we believe; how and why people come to faith, lose faith, change their faith and grow in faith. We will study works in a variety of genres, especially forms of literary narrative (novel, film, short story, graphic novel, personal narrative, etc.), analyzing how they are constructed, how this construction plays a role in their messages and meanings, and how this may be relevant to our own lives and beliefs. AH1, HCP

  • Section 03: Marriage in the Modern Age
    Why do people marry or remain single? Is it possible to guarantee a good marriage? What should the decision of who to marry be based on? How are those choices, and marriage itself, shaped by economics? 鈥 the law? 鈥 technology? Great writers like Jane Austen, Kate Chopin, Zora Neale Hurston, Louisa May Alcott and Henrik Ibsen have reflected on these questions in their writing, and by reading their works through a historical lens, we will seek our own answers. Our readings will represent Christian, Muslim and secular understandings of marriage, and explore the drastic changes that the institution of marriage has undergone over the past two centuries. AH1, HCP

  • Section 04: Literature and the Four Loves
    C.S. Lewis鈥檚 celebrated book The Four Loves provides the basis for this class鈥檚 literary explorations of affection, friendship, eros and charity. We will examine how fictional and poetic representations of these distinct yet interconnected ways of loving can illuminate our own experiences as creatures who love and are loved. AH1, HCP

  • Section 05: From There, from Here: Modern Arab Diaspora Literature I
    In his elegy for the scholar Edward Said, the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish writes:

    鈥淚 am from there, I am from here,
    but I am neither there nor here
    I have two names鈥
    I have two languages, but I have long forgotten
    which is the language of my dreams.鈥

    In this course we will read authors from the Arab world who 鈥 by choice or against their will 鈥 live(d) outside their homelands. Through modern works of literature that have been translated into or were originally written in English, we will learn about several experiences of Arab diaspora life all over the world. We will read from a 2023 collection of short stories by author Ghassan Zeineddine called Dearborn, named for the southeast Michigan town that has the highest concentration of Arabs in the US. We will also read works by Arab authors living abroad in the UK (Tayeb Salih), continental Europe (Hoda Barakat, Rachid Niny), Latin America (Lina Meruane) and elsewhere. This course will be an in-depth exploration of the concept of al-ghurbah, an Arabic word that can mean simply 鈥渁broad,鈥 but also 鈥渆strangement.鈥 AH1, HCP, USD
  • Section 06: Apocalyptic Anxieties in Literature
    This course covers literary texts that reflect fears about the end of the world. We will place fiction, poetry and drama about monsters, natural disasters and other catastrophes into conversation with descriptions of the real-life wars, technological developments, medical challenges, political conflicts and religious anxieties that inspired these visions of the apocalypse. After exploring the British Romantic period as a starting-point for modern apocalyptic literature, we will turn to modern and contemporary American literature, focusing on both the challenges that our texts depict and the strategies for hope and resilience that they reflect. Readings may include works by Mary Shelley, W. E. B. Du Bois, Thornton Wilder, Octavia Butler, Ted Chiang and Joy Harjo. Analysis of these texts will center on the ways in which the study of literature can enable us to process some of the most difficult elements of human experience. AH1, HCP, USD

ENGL 210: English Literature Themes II

  • Section 01: Ghost Stories
    Ghosts come in many forms, and one doesn't have to believe in literal ghosts to understand that our lives are often affected by a disorienting sense of ghostliness. Many of us are haunted by our pasts or by the undeniable feeling that those who have died are still with us 鈥 lingering in the corners of our consciousness if not in the corners of our rooms. Ghost are those things we can鈥檛 control; they are unknown entities that want our attention; they are experiences that offer a presentiment of other worlds; and they are states of mind that we sometimes need to overcome in order to get on with our lives. There are many ways of thinking about ghosts, both literal and figurative, and we will explore as many as we can in this class by reading novels, short stories, poems and plays in which ghosts play a significant role. AH2, HCP

  • Section 02: Environmental Literature
    Although environmental issues are often framed scientifically, economically or politically, a premise of this course is that words and stories 鈥 and the values, attitudes and ideas embedded in them 鈥 are just as, if not more, important for understanding (and improving) humanity鈥檚 relationship with its environments. In this introductory course in environmental literature, we鈥檒l consider that relationship and what we mean by 鈥渆nvironment鈥 and other ways we refer to our common, creaturely home. To do so, we鈥檒l study classics of American nature writing as well as ancient and contemporary environmental texts in a wide variety of genres. Authors may include Henry Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Hayao Miyazaki and Octavia Butler. Particular attention will be given to environmental justice and intersections of religious faith with environmental issues. 
    AH2, HCP

  • Sections 03: From There, from Here: Modern Arab Diaspora Literature I
    In his elegy for the scholar Edward Said, the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish writes:

    鈥淚 am from there, I am from here,
    but I am neither there nor here
    I have two names鈥
    I have two languages, but I have long forgotten
    which is the language of my dreams.鈥

    In this course we will read authors from the Arab world who 鈥 by choice or against their will 鈥 live(d) outside their homelands. Through modern works of literature that have been translated into or were originally written in English, we will learn about several experiences of Arab diaspora life all over the world. We will read from a 2023 collection of short stories by author Ghassan Zeineddine called Dearborn, named for the southeast Michigan town that has the highest concentration of Arabs in the US. We will also read works by Arab authors living abroad in the UK (Tayeb Salih), continental Europe (Hoda Barakat, Rachid Niny), Latin America (Lina Meruane) and elsewhere. This course will be an in-depth exploration of the concept of al-ghurbah, an Arabic word that can mean simply 鈥渁broad,鈥 but also 鈥渆strangement.鈥 
    AH2, HCP, USD

ENGL 230: English Literature Surveys II

  • Section 01: The Modern Novel in Global Literature
    This 3-credit course fulfills the requirements for human creative and global learning perspectives in the general education program at Hope College. It explores the experiences of migrants in Western societies by examining a variety of themes including identity, belonging, exclusion, marginalization, otherness and racial inferiority. The course draws from the theoretical constructs of cross-cultural integration and hybridity to explore a three-part structure of exodus, the dream and return to explore the complexities of the in-between in distinct temporal and geographical spaces. It primarily focuses on literature from Africa to depict the reversal of expectations and precarity of living in Western societies as an illegal migrant. AH2,HCP,GLP

  • Section 02: The Great American Novel
    In the words of the British fiction writer D.H. Lawrence, 鈥淭he novel is the bright book of life鈥 鈥 a genre whose generous dimensions allowed an ever deeper submergence into life as it is lived. But which are the greatest American novels? Who are the greatest American novelists? This course will investigate classic writers, popular writers, and writers on religion, race, gender and the range of human emotion. Still under construction, the syllabus for this course may (or may not) include revered nineteenth-century writers like Hawthorne, Melville, Stowe, Twain; twentieth-century giants like Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Richard Wright; producers of popular fiction like Mary O鈥橦ara; idols of the young like J. D. Salinger; writers on race like James Baldwin or Amy Tan; perhaps even the Gothic tales of Stephen King. Three critical essays, a short research paper AH2,HCP,GLP

  • Section 3: Bromantics to Brexit
    This course covers British literature from the 1790s until the present, a period during which Britain鈥檚 empire-building produced an increasingly complex British identity. We鈥檒l begin with the Romantics, whose revolutions in literary form coincided with new concerns about humanity鈥檚 relationship to nature and the divine. As the nineteenth century continues, we鈥檒l trace the growth of literary realism, which enabled new ways of telling (or obscuring) the truth about national and global injustices. We鈥檒l look at poetry, travel narratives, short fiction and drama from England and former colonies like India, Ireland and South Africa. We鈥檒l then turn to literary modernism, in which writers wrestled with the turmoil of world war, struggles for colonial independence and the fight for women鈥檚 rights. We鈥檒l wind up with postcolonial literature, examining the stylistic developments of the postmodern era by reading recent texts that reflect the questions of national identity Britain continues to struggle with today.  AH2,HCP,GLP

  • Section 4: Broadway Literature
    Broadway shows are central to popular theater in the United States; both plays and musicals have the potential to reach wide audiences through New York鈥檚 Broadway theaters. While Broadway serves as the pinnacle of mainstream theater, it is also the site of many ambitious endeavors to challenge the norms of popular performance. This course will focus on these intersections of popular and experimental art through analysis of theatrical works that have brought new ideas and new approaches to performance to the Broadway stage. We will read late twentieth and early twenty-first-century musicals and non-musical plays that address ideas like race, gender, sexuality, disability, class, relationships, family, labor and art. In addition to reading scripts, we will watch several recordings of performances and will explore the reactions of critics and fans. AH2,HCP,USD

  • Section 5: Black Women Writers
    Black women in America are relatively invisible in the African American literary canon. Beginning with accounts of slavery, Black women have been historically absent in literature; nonetheless, they bore the greatest burden of the institutions of slavery and capitalism, as they experienced multiple layers of oppression. Scholars, especially literary critics, have challenged the ways that prior historians masculinized slavery such that records of slavery were written as though slaves were historically male. It was not until the rediscovery of accounts of slavery by women authors such as Harriet Jacobs that the experiences of Black women were seen and read. In this course we will examine a wide array of themes covered by Black women writers, charting the emergence of Black women writers from the era of slavery to contemporary times. AH2, HCP

ENGL 240: Special Topics in Professional Writing

  • Section 01: Introduction to Writing in the Healthcare Professions
    The course will focus on employment application documents, writing for both a specialist and non-specialist audience, writing instructions, formal reports, patient histories and developing a clear prose style. Intended particularly for the general liberal arts student and/or English elective credits. May be repeated for additional credit in a different focus area.

  • Section 02: Introduction to Business Writing
    A course that teaches practical, applicable, real-world writing skills and forms. The course may focus on grant writing, science writing, technical writing, writing for nonprofits, multimodal composing, writing for the web, blogging and digital writing, writing in the public sphere, advanced argument, rhetorical studies, literacy studies or other composition studies, individually or in combination. Intended particularly for the general liberal arts student and/or English elective credits. May be repeated for additional credit in a different focus area.

ENGL 260: Harry Potter and Virtue Ethics
The Harry Potter series has been both praised and reviled for any number of reasons, but one thing most readers hold in common is the strength of their opinions: few hold merely neutral positions about it. In this course, we鈥檒l work through the series with a focus on examining its exposition of virtue ethics 鈥 that is, with a goal of seeing how various characters exemplify (or don鈥檛) the living-out of various virtues. To do this, we鈥檒l familiarize ourselves with the tradition of virtue ethics, from Aristotle to Aquinas and on to today, and we鈥檒l decide for ourselves whether the series will one day stand with other classics in children鈥檚 and young adult literature. AH2,HCP

ENGL 335: Black Science/Speculative Fiction
Greg Tate, a prominent science fiction critic, notes that 鈥淏lack people live the estrangement that science fiction writers imagine.鈥 Black Sci-fi, unlike any other genre, confronts traumatic pasts of African Americans, aiming to re-claim and revise the past, while also projecting these revised histories into an empowered future. In this course we will examine the works of Black sci-fi authors, focusing especially on science fictional tropes, some of which include alien spaceships, time travel and shapeshifting, among others. We shall study how Black Science fiction authors have re-envisioned these common tropes in a way that centers the harrowing experiences of Black people, but we shall also examine how each author instills a sense of hope for the future. USD

ENGL 372: Monsters and Heroes
Beowulf is a very different kind of 鈥渉ero鈥 than Gawain, and Grendel is a very different kind of opponent than the Green Knight. Understanding what might make a monster or what might constitute heroism in any particular literary text builds an understanding of the culture producing that text. One way, then, to study British literature from its earliest days is to assess various cultural conceptions of 鈥渢he other鈥 and how characters in literature respond to cultural difference. This survey course will introduce students to Jeffrey Jerome Cohen鈥檚 鈥渕onster theory鈥 as a basis for studying early British literature. This course will be especially helpful for future teachers of English as well as anyone interested in studying early modern literature.
DBRL. DPRE

ENGL 374: American Literature Survey
鈥淎merica is a poem in our eyes,鈥 wrote the great Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1844. In an era when literally thousands of refugees risk their lives to cross our border, the question of American identity is suddenly newly prominent, even urgent. 鈥淲hat then is the American, this new man?鈥 the French immigrant Hector St. John de Cr猫vecoeur wondered a generation earlier, and it鈥檚 time to ask it again. What does make America unique: flawed by its national sins, yet still a beacon of hope for the oppressed? The answer may be perceptible in the panorama of our literature. We will begin with the remnants of Native American oral tradition, then turn to the surprisingly rich archive of the Puritan immigration, the political and social investigations of eighteenth century, the surge of creativity from the antebellum Atlantic seaboard, the trauma of the Civil War, then the waning of the nineteenth century and the watershed of the Great War. Three tests, three critical essays, various informal reactions, a short research project. DAML

ENGL 400: English Capstone: Literature
This workshop will culminate in a research essay of 15鈥20 pages that demonstrates the ability to use the methods and theoretical tools of literary studies; the topic of research, both the text(s) to be interpreted and the theoretical lenses to be used for analysis, will be open to student choice and may include film, TV or newer media. Course content will focus on literary theories and other tools of literary research.

ENGL 401: Creative Writing Capstone
This is the culminating course for creative writers. Workshop participants focus their work according to genre interests, view creative work through the lens of literary criticism, prepare manuscripts for publication, and provide feedback to peer work in progress. Prerequisites include Introduction to Creative Writing and at least one intermediate and one advanced course in poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction.