Alumni Panel to Speak About Creative Jobs for English Majors

At 7pm on November 18th, the English Department will co-host The Hope College Connection LIVE: Creative Jobs for English Majors. This will be a virtual event featuring a panel of alumni ready to share their advice and give some direction for landing an exciting and rewarding career. In advance of that event, the English Department is sharing more information about the panelists here in our blog. The selected panelists are:

  • Matthew Baker ‘09 | Author & Screenwriter
  • Annette Bourland ‘94 | Founder, Bourland Strategic Advisors
  • Natalie Brown ’17 | Freelance Writer & Author
  • Chris O’Brien ‘12 | Editor, Writer, and Owner of Long Overdue Publishing Company

Students will have the opportunity to ask all alumni in attendance their burning questions. This event is co-sponsored by the English Department, Alumni and Family Engagement team, and the Boerigter Center for Calling and Career at Hope College. Faculty, Staff & Alumni can register for this event HERE. Students can HERE.

Matthew Baker ‘09 | Author & Screenwriter

Matthew Baker (’09)

Named one of Variety’s “10 Storytellers To Watch,” Matthew Baker is the author of the story collections Why Visit America and Hybrid Creatures and the children’s novel Key Of X, originally published as If You Find This. Stories have appeared in publications such as New York Times MagazineThe Paris ReviewAmerican Short FictionOne StoryElectric Literature, and Best American Science Fiction And Fantasy.

Annette Bourland ‘94 | Founder | Bourland Strategic Advisors

Annette Bourland (’94)

Annette Bourland is a C-Suite level executive with more than 25 years of media and publishing experience. From books to magazines to digital platforms, Annette has developed long and short-form content, led teams in creating award-winning publications, and engaged virtual teams in areas of editorial, marketing, art, design, and technology. She currently leads Bourland Strategic Advisors (BSA) as a media consultant, guiding business strategy and publishing expansion for worldwide publishers and high caliber authors. Prior to launching her own business, Annette spent 12 years as Group Publisher with HarperCollins Publishing, leading adult nonfiction, curriculum, and children’s and teen imprints.

Natalie Brown ’17 | Freelance Writer & Author

Natalie Brown (’17)

Natalie Allison Brown is an award-winning author and motivational speaker. She is the author of Fifty-Two Cups of Coffee, a weekly devotional for the modern believer seeking intimacy with God. Passionate about the Gospel, Natalie uses storytelling as an instrument to encourage, challenge, and inspire others.

Chris O’Brien ‘12 | Editor, Writer, and Owner of Long Overdue Publishing Company

Chris O’Brien, (’12)

Chris is an author and also the Co-Founder of Long Overdue Books.

His very first book, right after he graduated from Hope College, was called “Medium Rare.” This led to his ongoing blog of the same name published Tuesday mornings on ChicagoNow

Through his own experiences navigating the confusing worlds of traditional and self-publishing, He decided to create what he hopes will serve as a social network for creating books, one that always puts authors first.

VWS Preview: Ron Austin & Anjoli Roy

By VWS Intern Claire Buck (’22)

The days are getting shorter, the tests are piling up, and everyone around me is becoming increasingly dependent on caffeine to power through the day. You can feel it in the air: we’re approaching the finish line of the fall semester. Before classes wrap up, though, we’ve got one last Visiting Writers Series event planned, so take a study break and tune in on Thursday, November 11 at 7:00 p.m. to hear from authors Anjoli Roy and Ron Austin.

Anjoli Roy

Anjoli Roy

Anjoli Roy is a teacher, literary podcast co-host, and author of two published chapbooks: “Enter the Navel” and “Grandpa Was a Skin Diver.” She holds her MA and PhD in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and she is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, among other distinctions. Her creative nonfiction blends storytelling with science and prose with poetry to form playful explorations of identity, origin, belonging, and family. Both of her full-length nonfiction works are available for free online, so you can check them out beforehand or let yourself be charmingly surprised by her writing at the event.

Ron Austin

Ron Austin

Ron Austin’s first book, Avery Colt is a Snake, a Thief, and a Liar, just came out in print in 2019, but his fiction has already grabbed critical attention and acclaim. His writing has earned the 2020 Devil’s Kitchen Fiction Award, the 2019 Forward INDIES Gold Award, the 2017 Nilson Prize, and a number of other distinctions. His linked short stories follow a boy growing up in inner-city St. Louis as he navigates possum infestations, the grueling labor of creating a community garden from a deserted street corner, and the complicated dynamics of family conflicts. Austin’s fiction is sharp, darkly funny, and filled with moments of surprising tenderness and empathy. His entertaining descriptions lend themselves to live reading, so his audience will be in for a treat.

The upcoming VWS event will take place virtually, which means you don’t even have to brave the West Michigan November chill to attend. Brew yourself a cup of tea, slip on your fuzziest socks, and settle in for an evening of shared literary enjoyment. For more information on the event and directions to the livestream link, visit the VWS website. We hope you’ll join us!

Big Read Lakeshore 2021: Joy Harjo, United States Poet Laureate

By Bill Moreau

Why do we do the Big Read? According to the National Endowment for the Arts, “The NEA Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery.  Studies show that reading for pleasure reduces stress, heightens empathy… and makes us more active and aware citizens.”

This fall marks the eighth year that Hope College and the greater Holland community have participated in this NEA/Hope College Big Read Lakeshore event.  We have read and talked about such diverse offerings as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird; Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried; Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying; Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine; Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven; Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies; Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea; and this year, An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo, the current U.S. poet laureate. 

As the fortunate professor who gets to teach the secondary English methods class here at Hope, I have the honor each fall to work with Hope’s secondary English majors and minors as we read the selected Big Read book and prepare to facilitate book discussions at public and private venues in the Holland area.  

Since classes started at the end of August, my eleven students and I have been reading, studying, and talking about Harjo’s book.  We are researching this collection of writings as a piece of literature, looking into the background and life of the author, and discovering information about the history of the Indigenous people of North America.  We are also learning about “Indian schools” and discussing main ideas, themes, takeaways, and lessons learned from reading and studying this book of poems (and other short pieces).

Here is what my very “cool kids” in English 380 are saying about Joy Harjo’s American Sunrise:

“Harjo blends masterful poetry and poignant language to remind us all of the importance of memory.” 

–Seth Piersma

An American Sunrise takes the reader on a journey that encompasses the pain, compassion, and culture that Native Americans have experienced over the years. Harjo beautifully writes from multiple perspectives, bringing those stories to life.” 

–Halle Carpenter

“A book of poems, songs, and prose, An American Sunrise brings to life the real, raw emotions felt by Harjo regarding her Native American ancestors who were wrongfully extracted from their homes during the Trail of Tears. ” 

–Maleah Teusink

“An American Sunrise is a beautiful work that encompasses the struggles of Native Americans interwoven with stories of Harjo’s own life.” 

–Olivia Lewis 

“Whether one is looking for poetry about the beauty of nature or prose about lingering generational trauma, An American Sunrise allows readers to step into her shoes.  Joy Harjo opens up the doors to what it means to be an Indigenous member of the Mvskoke people living in modern day America.”  

–Andrea Lowing

 “Joy Harjo showcases the pain and suffering her people experienced, but she doesn’t only focus on the pain: she provides examples of joyful times and happy traditions that make An American Sunrise such a thought provoking and enlightening read.”  

–Alison Laper 

Harjo’s journey to find meaning in her past is highlighted by pain, death, and horrors, but it also includes sparks of joy and hope.” 

–Ryan Eder 

 “Harjo amplifies the voices of the Mvskoke tribe through her rich tone, intricate detailing, and a passion for writing.”  

–Payton Johnson  

An American Sunrise allows outsiders a window to see into the social and personal injustices inflicted on Harjo’s ancestors.”

–Adolfo Magarin

An American Sunrise allows readers to become immersed in the history of Harjo’s family and the struggles, traditions, and triumphs that many Native Americans experience today.”  

–Nancy Gately

 “An American Sunrise is a historical, personal, and necessary narrative of humanity for contemporary audiences.” 

–Abby Hamilton

Consider attending a Big Read Lakeshore speaker or book discussion event. Joy Harjo will appear at a virtual event Monday, Oct. 25, at 7pm. More information on all Big Read events can be found at

Spring ’22 Course Preview

The time has come: Spring 2022 courses are here! Registration starts on November 8th, so take a look at our upcoming offerings as you begin to plan.

A list of 113 Descriptions can be found on our website. A full list of the Spring schedule can be located here; please note that not all courses have a listed description in this post.

ENGL 154 – 01A & 01B | Writing Fiction | Prof. Michael Brooks | TR 3-3:50 PM

Introduction to Fiction is your chance to grow in storytelling, a valuable skill in many lines of work beyond writing. This half-semester class gives you the opportunity to tap into your creativity as you practice foundational fiction-writing techniques and learn the various elements that weave together to make memorable stories. No prior creative writing experience is necessary for this course. We’ll read short stories by celebrated writers of many backgrounds while working through the basics of plot, characterization, and other fiction foundations to start you on the path to finding your unique voice. The semester will employ different writing exercises and peer reviews to help you craft and revise your very own short story.

2 credits / FA2

ENGL 213 | Rhetoric and Community Engagement | Dr.Tom Sura | TR 1:30-2:20 PM

We encounter rhetoric every day as mass media, social media, employers, and other people all use language and images to affect what we do, think, and feel. In this course we will examine how language shapes the world we live in as well as how a deeper understanding of rhetoric gives us the agency to shape our worlds too. Students will choose their own research projects within this framework and write in multiple genres to enhance their expertise with both writing and their research subjects.

2 Credits

ENGL 214 – 01 & 02 | Workplace Writing | Dr. Mike Owens | MW 9:30-10:20 AM & MW 11-11:50 AM

This course is an introduction to writing effectively in business, industry, the government, and any other profession.  Its primary objective is to help you work through common business writing tasks, both large and small, and produce writing that is clear, organized, correct, and effectively communicates its point.  An additional course objective is to give you necessary skills for analyzing and composing messages in basic formats such as memos, letters, plans, resumes, and reports.  The course also includes an introduction to workplace presentations and a bit of review in fundamental grammar, punctuation, and stylistic conventions in Standard Written English.  Ethical considerations in business writing is an on-going discussion throughout the course as well.

2 Credits

ENGL 231 | Literature of the Western World I | Dr. Stephen Hemenway | MWF 1-1:50 PM

Aesop’s fables and Homer’s tales of war and adventure start you on an odyssey of ancient literature. Frowns and smiles accompany your dramatic responses to Greek tragedies and comedies. Ancient Roman and medieval Italian epics send you on a spiritual journey that may also embrace excerpts from the Hindu Bhagavad Gita and the Chinese Tao Te Ching. Chaucer takes you on a pilgrimage with the Pardoner and the Wife of Bath, and Cervantes inaugurates a quest for an impossible dream with Don Quixote. Sappho, Lady Murasaki, Margery Kempe, Marguerite de Navarre, and Sor Juana de la Cruz go places where few females dared to tread. Michelangelo, Petrarch, and Shakespeare lead you through the Renaissance and Reformation and prepare you for the modern world. As you investigate and explore these authors and works, you read and take tests or written test alternatives, write journals and short papers (or a longer research project), and engage in lively discussions about these masterpieces of Western literature in a global context.

4 Credits | CH1

ENGL 234 | Modern Global Literatures | Dr. Ernest Cole | TR 9:30 – 10:50 AM

This 4-credit course fulfills the general education and global learning international requirements at Hope College. It focuses on the experiences of migrants in the United States by exploring a variety of themes that encompass the dynamics of culture and integration including identity, belonging, exclusion and marginalization, and the reformulation of stereotypes of otherness and inferiority of immigrants. The course draws from the theoretical constructs of cross-cultural integration and hybridity to explore a three-part structure of exodus, the dream and the complexities of the in-between to examine the representation of the migrant in distinct geographical spaces. Using the harrowing experiences of migrants crossing the Mediterranean, the course draws from literature from east and west Africa to depict the reversal of expectations and wanton destruction of immigrant lives in the western world.

4 Credits | CH2, GL1

ENGL 248-01 | Introduction to Literary Studies – Monsters: From Beowulf to Beloved | Dr. Jesse Montaño |TR 9:30-10:50 AM

What if we read Beowulf, an early medieval text written in Old English, through the lens of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a novel about a ghost and about slavery? What would we learn about ourselves? About liberation? About others? 

This course is about monsters. It is a course on literature, because tales and stories are where monsters find form, where they find life. In this, monsters are bound up in our imagination, in what we find abhorrent, frightening, horrifying. And to a large extent, what we most fear is the Other. This, then, is our task: to look at monsters through “dark” lenses that allow us to see the devaluation of humanity in the making of monsters, in other words, the making of Others.

Along with Beowulf and Beloved, we will read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Octavia Butler’s Fledgling, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and Jorge Luis Borges’s “The House of Asterion,” a short story told from the perspective of the Minotaur. 

4 Credits

ENGL 248-02 | Introduction to Literary Studies | Dr. Emily Tucker | MWF 9:30-10:20 AM

Why does literature matter? In this class, we’ll break this gigantic question down into smaller, more approachable pieces. These will include:

-How can literature help us to reflect on and even transform our own lives?

-How do contemporary scholars and adapters make literary classics speak to the concerns of the twenty-first century world?

         -What reading practices and theories most enable us to understand literary texts?

         -What counts as “great literature,” and who gets to make that decision?  

As we work through these and other questions, we will explore poems, fiction, and drama from authors who are likely to include Jorge Luis Borges, Virginia Woolf, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Adrienne Rich, William Shakespeare, Bharati Mukherjee, Gwendolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, and Toni Morrison.

4 Credits

ENGL 253-01 | Introduction to Creative Writing | Dr. Pablo Peschiera | MWF 12-12:50 PM

Introduction to Creative Writing looks at the core of all creative writing—images, words, and sentences—but also develops your awareness and abilities in poetry and storytelling in fiction and nonfiction. You don’t need previous experience for this course because everyone has the core skills necessary to write creatively. We’ll write poems, short stories, and memoirs—but great writers must also be great readers. So, we’ll also develop our reading skills by analyzing the poems, memoirs, and short stories of established authors alongside those written by our classmates. This will allow us to develop the skill of how to give helpful, purposeful feedback to our peers, and further develop our internal editors for our writing. Most importantly, we’ll explore the core of what it means to be you: a college student, a citizen of your particular, unique world, and an individual with a unique voice. 

4 Credits, FA2

ENGL 253-02 |  Introduction to Creative Writing | Dr.Susanna Childress | TR 12-1:20 PM

It’s time to get creative! For this course, you need not have any previous writing experience. We’ll do regular writing exercises, plenty of reading, and lots of constructive peer response. We’ll take a good, long look at craft techniques to aid you in trying your hand at poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Joan Didion, who wrote across genres, said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” Welcome to a course whose whole point is to help you find something—or a myriad of things—out!

4 Credits | FA2

ENGL 271 | British Literature II | Dr. Christiana Salah | TR 9:30-10:50 AM

This course fulfills the Global Learning International gen ed credit and covers British literature from the 1790s until the present. Read the unforgettable words of Keats, Shelley, Byron, and Austen as we start our journey in the Romantic period—a time of revolutionary awakening to the importance of the individual’s internal experience of mind, emotions, nature, and the soul. Moving into the Victorian era, we’ll read Brontë, Dickens, Tennyson, Wilde, and more, as we trace how new literary genres emerged to describe the bustling new world of factories, cities, and globalization. We’ll peruse travel narratives from the empire and look at struggles “at home” in England under a rigid patriarchy and heavily stratified class structure. With poetry, travel narratives, short fiction, and drama from England, India, Ireland, and South Africa, we’ll explore the diverse, contested new “British” identity. Next, literary modernism will show us how writers wrestled with the turmoil of world war and struggles for colonial independence. We’ll conclude with postcolonial literature and examine the work of writers from former British colonies and a novel depicting racial, scientific, and religious conflicts in late twentieth-century London.

Short assignments and an introductory research project give students opportunities to work through these difficult ideas while practicing their writing skills, but also open windows for pure engagement and enjoyment of some of the greatest works ever written. 

4 Credits | GLI

ENGL 280 | American Literature I | Dr. Kathleen Verduin | MWF 9:30-10:20 AM

“America is a poem in our eyes,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the metaphor is apt: America is not simply a geographical space but an idea, a creation of the imagination, ever new and ever-changing—and much of what we contemplate as “American” arises from the testaments of our writers. This course surveys American literature from its beginnings to the Civil War, a period when the snide British taunt “Who reads an American book?” was finally laid to rest. We will start with Native American oral tradition, then look carefully and with an open mind at the writings of the American Puritans and at eighteenth-century contributions to the flowering of the nation. We will move then into the miraculous abundance of talent among nineteenth-century artists like Hawthorne, Melville, Stowe, and Whitman. We will wonder at the loomings of an African American literary tradition. To crush such a rich heritage into a single semester seems a travesty, particularly since the American literary canon—those works deemed worthy of study and of perpetuation in the classroom—has undergone such dramatic change since the establishment of American literature as an academic province some ten or twelve decades ago. Still, a course like this can make a start, exposing students to American writers, American literary history, and the juxtaposition of literature with culture. The redoubtable Norton Anthology of American Literature provides a virtually inexhaustible resource. By the end of the semester, we all should know American literature a lot better—but if all goes as planned, we should also know a lot more about ourselves.

4 Credits | DAML, DPRE

ENGL 282 | American Ethnic Literature | Dr. Jesse Montaño | TR 12-1:20 PM


At the heart of the matter, Survey in Ethnic American Literature is designed to develop the “whole person” at Hope College via study in critical methodologies and scholarly approaches for understanding the diverse historical and cultural issues relating to ethnicity in the US at a time when America is becoming increasingly multicultural and at a time when as Americans we are increasingly aware of the values of multiculturalism to the social body in general and to the Hope College student in particular; thus, participants are encouraged to gain and develop skills to research, analyze, and reflect on the heritage of ethnic cultures in America with the design that such study will develop the “whole person,” or in a word, to develop a Citizen, a participant and an activist who has a view of the larger mission in life and who strives daily, both locally and globally, in the pursuit of justice and equality. 


This course will introduce students to methods and approaches for understanding the diverse historical and cultural issues relating to ethnic literary production in the US.  Students will explore a wide variety of primary materials, including literature, film, art, and material culture, and will build on critical reading and critical learning skills necessary for understanding US ethnic experiences.  The objective of the course is to introduce students to the field of ethnic American literatures, place students within the ongoing conversations, and have students take major steps toward active engagement with those conversations. The course is designed to theoretically interact with higher division courses in the minor.  


Ninety percent of this course is survey in nature, with coverage its impetus.  The other fifty percent of the course will focus on methods and approaches for understanding the evolving concepts of race and ethnicity.  Students will explore various themes and ideas prevalent in discussions of race and ethnicity.  The objective is to make students comfortable with the conversation while at the same time allowing them to take steps toward critically understanding the concepts and ideas.  What is not a major goal nor an objective is to take students to take students to a metaphorical building and have them look around outside, perhaps even look inside or touch it.  If this analogy holds, and I think it does, then in this course we will examine the blueprints, explore the insides, comment on the various renovations, and discuss the relevance for such a building, whether personal, social, cultural, or national.

4 Credits | DAEL, DAML, DPST, GLD

ENGL 354 | Intermediate Creative Writing: Fiction | Dr. Susanna Childress | TR 1:30-2:50 PM

According to Flannery O’Connor, “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.” She also said, “I write to discover what I know.” And this, too: “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.”

So this is your chance: discover what you know by saying something that can’t be said any other way, make every word integral in the saying, and also, of course, let your weird out! We’ll closely examine—as writers who are looking to steal their secrets—short stories from contemporary literary giants in this genre. We’ll get a wide variety of styles and techniques in short fiction but also, as a bonus, helpful, hands-on commentary directly from the authors about their stories.

We’ll undertake exercises to develop your characters, push your plot lines, and make your dialogue do good and gritty work. We’ll engage in in-class critique, aka, workshop. We’ll watch a couple films which have loads to teach us about character building and the power of storytelling. Come prepared to read and to write—lots and lots of each!

So come discover what you know, and let the truth set you strange….

4 Credits

ENGL 360 | Modern English Grammar | Dr. Kathleen Verduin | MWF 12-12:50 PM

Is it “lie” or “lay”? “Who” or “whom”? “I” or “me”? And when is a sentence not a sentence, and what is a dangling participle, and where (on earth) should you place commas? If you’ve ever been troubled by these questions, sign up for this course. We start simply, learning to identify the seven (some say eight) parts of speech, recognizing phrases and clauses, and yes—but fear not!—diagramming sentences. We go over the conventions of usage: affect vs. effect, amount vs. number, imply vs. infer, like vs. as, and a fearsome lineup of similarly daunting verbal mysteries. But (and yes, you can—indeed, you may—begin a sentence with this word!) we also look into the history of grammar, the invention of sentence diagrams, and the cultural questions surrounding the role of grammar in contemporary society: why does grammatical correctness matter (or does it?), who decides what’s “correct,” and why (for heaven’s sake) are grammarians so often represented as crabby old ladies? By the end of the semester, you will write with increased confidence, secure in the knowledge that your prose won’t be blotched with distracting and embarrassing errors. A great course for writers, future teachers, or anyone who just wants to look good in print. Lots of support, lots of exercises, lots of encouragement: if you take this course, you ain’t gonna be sorry.

4 Credits

ENGL 371 | Tolkien and Medieval Literature | Dr. Curtis Gruenler | MW 3-4:20 PM

J. R. R. Tolkien is not only the most influential author of fantasy literature but also one of the great scholars of medieval literature—and each of these interests fed the other. This course will weave together the development of Old and Middle English literature with Tolkien’s career as an author and the chronology of Middle Earth. We will read medieval works that Tolkien studied, both well known and lesser known, including some Old English poems such as “The Battle of Maldon” and focusing on Middle English works such as Sir Orfeo, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. And we will read Tolkien’s Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and several shorter works, both creative and scholarly. Seeing how medieval literature inspired Tolkien’s work will guide us in better understanding both. The many ways in which he responded to the works he loved—scholarly articles, poems imitating old forms, sequels, translations, reconstructions of fragmentary works, drama, and, of course, his own fantasy novels—will be models for our own responses.

All medieval works will be read in modern translations, often by Tolkien himself. There will be opportunities to explore medieval literature in languages other than English (such as Welsh and Old Norse), how all these works respond to the Bible, and other topics of individual interest. The course will be conducted as a discussion-based seminar. Students will write a portfolio of pieces that will include critical writing as well as other interpretive and creative genres.

ENGL 373 | Victorian Crime | Dr. Christiana Salah | TR 3-4:20 PM

“It is my belief, Watson,” observed the great detective Sherlock Holmes, “that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.” Was he right? This semester, we’ll dodge pickpockets in the foggy, gaslit streets of Victorian London—visit wealthy manor houses hiding terrible secrets—stroll across classic English meadows looking for buried bodies—all as we seek to understand the human fascination with stories of murder, mystery, and mayhem. We’ll read the works of famous authors like Dickens, Doyle, and Poe alongside rediscovered Victorian favorites, with a few modern films and tales thrown in for comparison. We’ll uncover the origin stories of many of the common devices found in detective shows, true crime podcasts, and murder mysteries today: amateur sleuths! lady detectives! gold-digging relatives! dramatic trial scenes! locked room mysteries! least likely suspects! and more! We’ll debate questions like: What makes a crime story effective? What separates “genre fiction” from “great literature”? What can tales of crime tell us about truth and justice in a time of poverty, empire, and social upheaval? As we read, we’ll also take a step-by-step journey through the Victorian archives to develop unique, interest-driven research projects, and even do a little creative dabbling in the mystery writing genre. 

4 Credits

ENGL 455 | Advanced Creative Writing: Poems | Dr. Pablo Peschiera | TR 4:30-5:50 PM

Poetry is the core of creative writing: it’s in the rhythm and flow in rap by Kendrick Lamar, Missy Elliot, and Pharrel Williams; and in the subtle fire of Joy Harjo, Amanda Gorman, and Billy Collins. It’s in our Bible’s Book of Psalms, and in the homages to nature by Wendell Berry. Poetry is the art of the human mouth—and your poetry exists in the art of your unique language, one you’ve gained over years as a human being.

We’ll write at least 20 poems in this class, and several short reflective essays about poetic craft and poets. We’ll read several books of contemporary poetry, attend readings on Zoom and (hopefully) in person, and develop a final project made of a short collection of poetry. We’ll read our work out loud to each other, memorize a poem or two, and develop a publishing project that includes submitting your poems to literary journals, including our campus journal, Opus.

Maybe most importantly, we’ll work as a collaborative workshop, in which we read each others’ poems in order to support our shared goal of becoming more successful artists who use language to express themselves.

4 Credits.

Questions? Talk with your English advisor or email if you are an English minor. You can view the full schedule here.

Hope Alum and Visiting Writer Kristin Brace: “Pay Attention. Look Closer.”

Alum Kristin Brace

2007 Alumnae Kristin Brace is a poet and author of two chapbooks and a full-length collection. Her most recent publication, Toward the Wild Abundance, was selected for the 2018 Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize. Her work draws inspiration from nature, visual art, family history, dreams and memory. She lives in West Michigan, and references to the region appear frequently in her work.

Kristin joins Shea Tuttle in returning to campus on September 28th at 7 pm in Winants to read and connect with students as a part of the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series. Both Tuttle and Brace are Hope College alumni. Jack Ridl, the namesake of the Visiting Writers Series program, was an influential professor in Tuttle’s education and reviewed Brace’s collection Toward the Wild Abundance. The two authors have a strong connection to the college as well as a shared attitude of humility and attention to detail in their writing.

JRVWS intern Claire Buck (’22) interviewed Kristin in preparation for her visit to campus.

When you begin the process of crafting a poem, what part of it tends to come to you first? An image? A line? An idea about the form? 

I often catch hold of a line, in which case the poem’s voice or musicality tend to drive the writing. Other times a more nebulous mood or idea is trying to take a more definite shape and I find myself writing my way towards it. Sometimes this is as simple as writing about my surroundings to allow the poem to find its footing. Often, I’ll end up cutting much of this preliminary writing. But I write slowly and listen closely, which perhaps leads to the images I create often surprising me or resonating in some way that ends up serving the poem. 

When you write, do you work in drafts or do you revise as you go? How do you intuit when a poem is “done” or at least ready to send out into the world? 

Working in drafts allows me freedom to write without judgement and without trying to force the poem in a direction it doesn’t want to go. I find that my truest writing makes it onto the page when I am in a flow state, generating work that I’m excited enough about to then move on to revision. Occasionally a poem never feels finished. When it does, I feel a sense of satisfaction with the various elements of the poem: the images, word choice, and pacing all work together to serve the poem’s overall vision.  

Are there poems you write that are only for you? Conversely, do you ever write poems that are aimed at a particular person or kind of reader?

I write the poems that I need to write. After I feel that the poem is complete, I decide if I’d like to send it out into the world or if it’s already served its purpose in the act of being written. I don’t find myself writing for a particular kind of person, though it makes sense that someone interested in the types of themes I deal with might gravitate towards my poems. On the other hand, I would be thrilled to know of someone with a very different worldview or aesthetic from my own being moved by something I write.

How did you go about making decisions around the order and organization of the poems in your most recent collection? 

The process was both intuitive and methodical. I considered factors such as a poem’s speaker, its themes and imagery, and how each poem begins, ends, and appears on the page. I asked myself how the poems speak to or echo one another, how their meaning or mood alters in the wake of the previous poem. Poems in a collection are like people within a community or individual ingredients in a meal: context is everything. 

In addition to the entire collection having an arc, I also wanted each section within the book to have a satisfying shape. A helpful technique that I began as a Hope College writing student is to print out the entire manuscript and physically move the pages around, either spreading them out on the floor or taping them to the wall. I can catch small edits more easily this way as well.

What’s a poem that resonated with you recently?

I’ll bend the question a little and say that I’ve been dipping back into Laura Kasischke’s Space, in Chains. The poems are smart and strange, gorgeous and haunting. 

What advice would you offer young writers, especially young poets?

Your writing life will go through many seasons. Accept these changes and be gentle with yourself, while knowing that no one but you will protect your writing time. Read widely and deeply. Write about what matters to you. Pay attention. Look closer. 

Kristin Brace will join the Visiting Writers Series on September 28th at 7:00pm in Winants Auditorium.

Hope Alum and Visiting Writer Shea Tuttle: “Poetry Might Save You.”

Shea Tuttle, Alum (’06) and Visiting Writer

Shea Tuttle is the author of Exactly as You Are: The Life and Faith of Mister Rogers and co-editor of Can I Get a Witness? Thirteen Peacemakers, Community Builders, and Agitators for Faith and Justice. Her essays have appeared at Greater Good Magazine, The Toast, The Other Journal, Role Reboot and Jenny. She is a Hope College alum (’06).

Shea returns to campus on September 28th at 7 pm in Winants to read and connect with students as a part of the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series.

JRVWS intern Adriana Barker (’22) interviewed Shea in preparation for her visit to campus.

What was the highlight of your Hope College experience? Did you have a favorite class, professor, or extracurricular?

The highlight of my Hope experience was my relationships with professors who invested time and care in me. Some of my most formative profs, in no particular order, included Kathleen Verduin, Jack Ridl, Lynn Japinga, Steve Bouma-Prediger, Boyd Wilson, Mary DeYoung, Allen Verhey, and Jeff Tyler.

Tell me the brief story of your education and career journeys after graduating from Hope.

Following Hope, I went to Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, and graduated with my M.Div. three years later in 2009. From there, I moved to Virginia, where my fiancé lived. We got married that summer, and I started a job working for a family-owned construction company whose owners were also working to start a nonprofit; I got to help with both and learned a lot. The next year, our daughter was born, and I spent her first year mostly at home. Then I started working at the University of Virginia’s Project on Lived Theology, where I served initially as project manager and later as editorial manager. In all, I spent seven years as part of that project. 

Currently, I work as a communications associate at CrossOver Healthcare Ministry, a charitable health clinic that serves people who are uninsured or who have Medicaid. There, I get to write frequently as part of our fundraising team, and I’m also improving my graphic design skills. It has been a gift to work for an organization providing healthcare to people in need over the past year when that has been so important–even though I’m not providing direct care. Throughout my years since Hope, I’ve continued to write in various forms at various times, including poetry, essay, biography, and children’s literature.

What is the most important thing you want people to take away from Exactly as You Are?

The editorial team and I went through countless back-and-forth emails and lists and brainstorming to figure out the title of the book. Ultimately, I’m so glad we ended up with the title we did, because I think it’s pretty much the whole point. Mister Rogers’ bedrock belief was that each of us is lovable exactly as we are, and that summed up his theology nicely as well. I hope, in reading about this deep conviction and how it guided Rogers’ life, that people might catch a glimpse of the truth of that belief for themselves.

What was something you learned about yourself through the process of writing Exactly as You Are?

Writing is really hard! I can’t count how many times I despaired over the direction of a chapter or the daunting task of wrestling the research into something coherent and meaningful. But it was also one of the most exhilarating things I’ve ever done. I’ve learned that, for me, having a big, unwieldy project to work on with some knotty problems to untangle is a kind of deep, mental health self-care.

Can you speak a little about your connection to ministry? What did writing Exactly as You Are teach you about ministry and leading a Christian life?

Fred Rogers was–or at least appeared to be–much more settled in his faith than I’ve ever been. I’ve always maintained a close connection to church and Christian life, but I also have a great big giant agnostic streak. At some point it occurred to me that what Rogers believed and taught summarizes pretty well what I hope is true about God and the world and people. There was something freeing about being able to share his convictions, as I perceived them, without the dozen caveats I might add if I were talking about my own.

I’m fascinated by your emphasis on liturgy, both in Exactly as You Are and your essay “What Church Has Taught Me About Mass Shootings.” What are some of the liturgies that you think are shaping American culture today? And how do we as individuals make meaningful changes to national patterns?

Oh goodness, they aren’t very good ones, are they? The liturgy of checking the phone. The liturgy of scanning for symptoms. The liturgy of the breaking news alert or the morning dread. The liturgy of tired arguments that still need making but don’t seem to make any difference. It’s a tough time. 

It seems to me that most changes happen slowly, quietly, at least at first, until they rise up in a tide. The move toward marriage equality, for instance, happened slowly and quietly for a long time, and then seemed to happen all at once, thank God. More darkly, the move toward the embrace of open racism in national politics happened slowly and quietly for a very (very!) long time, and then seemed to suddenly become mainstream. Those big, seemingly-sudden changes–for better or for worse–are the result of the little, cumulative moves we’re making day to day, the small assents we give, the tiny yeses we say in moments that hardly give us pause. So I guess we’d better pay attention to the small choices we make, because they ultimately can join with everyone else’s small choices to make something enormous.

Any advice for current Hope College students who are interested in writing? (Or theology?)

Keep on doing it. It’s not an easy time to be a poet or a novelist or a theologian–as if it ever has been. It’s so easy to feel like no one cares about these things when the world is on fire. But I’m pretty sure it’s poetry and novels and theological musings that will save us. Climate science, of course. Medicine, of course. But a perfect line break, a humming paragraph, a deep question–these are the things that will help science and medicine and all those other essential disciplines maintain humanity and humility as they solve impossible problems in a dizzyingly complex world. 

And also, of course, it might save you. Over the past year and a half, I rediscovered poetry writing. At some point, when I had a small stack of grubby pandemic poems, I sent a note to Jack Ridl. We spent a few hours on Zoom over the next few weeks, reading poems and talking about them. And can I tell you how delicious it was to look away from the news and the case counts and the polling numbers, and talk about tiny things? The rhythm of a word or the order of a sentence or the timing of a line. I didn’t know I’d been dying for it until we did it. God bless the tiny things–and Jack Ridl, of course.

Shea Tuttle will join the Visiting Writers Series on September 28th at 7:00pm in Winants Auditorium.

Fall 2021: Get to Know Your Profs!

We’re starting this series up again to showcase new faculty, along with a few faculty who are returning after some time away! If you’re interested in catching up from last year, here are links to 2020’s Round 1 & Round 2.

Prof. Rebecca Blok

Professor Rebecca Blok

How long have you been at Hope? This is my first semester teaching here, but I graduated from Hope in 2016.  It’s good to be home!

Favorite Subject to Teach/Specialty Area? Medieval literature

Favorite Movie? The Princess Bride–it has a little bit of everything.

Favorite Book? Recently, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Favorite Hobbies? Cooking, contra dancing, and I have recently picked up playing the bodhran (not very well).

Prof. Blok teaches ENGL 113 – 23 this semester.

Prof. Cheri Endean

Professor Cheri Endean with her grandaughter

How long have you been at Hope? Fall 2021 is my first semester as an instructor, although I was a Hope parent from 2013-2017, when my younger son Thomas was earning his degree in chemistry.

Favorite Subject to Teach/Specialty Area? I love teaching first-year writing. There are so many skills students can learn to deal with writing obstacles. Also, I struggled with writing as an undergraduate, so I find it easy to sympathize with my students.

Favorite Movie? Stranger than Fiction; About a Boy

Favorite Book? C S Lewis’ book The Great Divorce  (a fantasy/allegory about the nature of hell and of heaven).

Favorite Hobbies? Hiking, especially to see waterfalls. Cooking, especially when I have invited guests to share a meal. Boating (we’ve cruised on the Erie Canal twice). Dancing, especially a dance called the Carolina Shag that developed on the beaches in North Carolina.

Prof. Endean teaches ENGL 113 – 13 & ENGL 113 – 24this semester.

Prof. David Greendonner

Prof. David Greendonner

How long have you been at Hope? The fall 2021 semester is my first.

Favorite Subject to Teach/Specialty Area? Fiction!

Favorite Movie? Cool Hand Luke.

Favorite Book? The Great Gastby

Favorite Hobbies? Playing drums, drawing, and reading comics.

Prof. Greendonner teaches ENGL 113 – 22 this semester.

Dr. Marla Lunderberg

Dr. Marla Lunderberg

How long have you been at Hope? I began teaching here in 1994, but I’m also a 1982 Hope alum. It was a joy to return to Hope to join my professors, and yet also a challenge to see myself as one of their colleagues!

Favorite Subject to Teach/Specialty Area? I love the magic of energy in the classroom, and I thrive on opportunities to learn together with my students. Brit Lit I and Shakespeare are courses specific to my area of specialization, but I also love teaching English 113 and Cultural Heritage and Senior Seminar.

Favorite Movie? Last year when I was on sabbatical, my daughter led me through viewing all the Marvel movies, and so by the time several new Marvel short series appeared last spring, I was hooked. These series are not movies (as the question asks for), but they’re some of my current favorites to talk about. For example, the short series WandaVision offers a stunning portrayal of the way the deep pain resulting from loss can shape one’s perspective, one’s experiences, one’s ongoing relationships.

Favorite Book? Mmmm–this is hard. Whatever book I can’t put down for the moment is usually my favorite, and I’m a bit fickle, willing to trade one favorite for the next as soon as I have time to ignore the world and hide in my comfy chair with a cup of tea and yet another new friend. Here are two that have held the favored spot at different times: The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce.

Favorite Hobbies? Most years, I’d say “travel” for my #1 favorite hobby, but at the moment, I’ve traded that particular joy for more local pursuits: gardening, especially my herb garden, and discovering local hiking trails on

Dr. Lunderberg teaches ENGL 270, ENGL 373, and IDS 492 – 04 this semester.

Dr. Christiana Salah

Dr. Christiana Salah

How long have you been at Hope? I started here in the fall of 2017, and am delighted to be back after a year of family leave.

Favorite Subject to Teach or Specialty Area? So many things! Here are three of my courses and why I love teaching them:

  • ENGL 373: Victorian Crime – Thrills, chills, and murders in foggy London town, by some of the greatest authors in history.
  • IDS 174: Marriage in the Modern Age – We dive into life’s huge questions, like why marry or stay single, and who to marry if you do.
  • WGS 200: Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies – We read powerful, magnetic voices and soak up new, world-bending ideas!

Favorite Movie? Is there a film more perfect than The Princess Bride? Inconceivable.

Favorite Book? It’s a tie between David Copperfield, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and the whole Harry Potter series.

Favorite Hobbies? Travel, hiking with my family, baking (I did a Great British Baking Show bake-along last year), and watching geeky movies.

Dr. Salah teaches IDS 174 – 03 & WGS 200 – 01 this semester.

Prof. Tom Sura

Prof. Tom Sura

How long have you been at Hope? I’ve been at hope since January 2021.

Favorite Subject to Teach or Specialty Area? I’m a rhetorician, which means I teach students about rhetoric. Rhetoric is often associated with persuading an audience, but I like to describe rhetoric as how we use language to do stuff.

Favorite Movie? The 1977 animated version of The Hobbit. Along with Star Wars, this movie contains the most quotes that my brother and I will habitually slip into everyday our conversations.

Favorite Book? Richard Adams’s Watership Down had a profound effect on my as a kid. To this day when I see a rabbit I wonder where its warren is and if it’s a member of the Owsla. 

Favorite Hobbies? All the ones that open up time with my kids including Pokémon, theater, video games, and Kidz Bop. 

Prof. Sura teaches ENGL 113-15 & ENGL 213 this semester.

Dr. Kristen VanEyk

Dr. Kristin VanEyk

How long have you been at Hope? This is my first year, and I love it already!

Favorite Subject to Teach or Specialty Area? Writing, especially English 113. But I’ve taught a lot of literature, nonfiction, and creative and academic writing over the past 15 years and have enjoyed it all.

Favorite Movie? I never have a good answer for this! I am watching a TV show called Ted Lasso right now, and I highly recommend it.

Favorite Book? I used to teach high school English, so it’s probably no surprise that my favorites are To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien), and A Walk in the Woods (Bill Bryson).

Favorite Hobbies? Running, eating, reading, writing, traveling with my spouse, and playing (games, outside, sports, make-believe) with my kids.

Dr. VanEyk teaches ENGL 113 – 04 & ENGL 113 – 09 this semester.

Dr. Robert Zandstra

Dr. Robert Zandstra with his son.

How long have you been at Hope? I am new to Hope this semester!

Favorite Subject to Teach/Specialty Area? I love teaching about connections between faith and environment in any context.

Favorite Movie? Ordet, for how it wrestles with and affirms faith; First Reformed, for how it wrestles with climate change and the state of American Christianity; My Neighbor Totoro, for how it elicits wonder and joy; The House Is Black, for how it elicits sympathy and compassion.

Favorite Book? Too many favorites! My favorite authors are Wendell Berry and Marilynne Robinson. The literary protagonists I most identify with (aspirationally!) are Alyosha from The Brothers Karamazov, Sir Gawain from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Pi from Life of Pi.

Favorite Hobbies? Hiking, gardening, cooking, reading and writing poetry.

Dr. Zandstra teaches ENGL 113 – 17, ENGL 113 – 21, and IDS 172 – 06 this semester.

2021 Senior Showcase: Volume 5

This is our final post in our 2021 Senior Showcase series. This week’s blog features Hannah Jones, Kaijsa Johnson, and Natalie Weg. Congrats to all of our 2020-2021 grads!

Hannah Jones

Hannah Jones

What year do you plan to graduate? I’ll be graduating in May of 2021.

If applicable, what are your major(s) and minor(s) aside from English? How do you see your English major impacting/influencing your other major(s)/minor(s)? I am a double major in English and Women’s and Gender Studies. I think that the main bridge between both subjects is empathy through story. For my English classes, I’ve read many books that have expanded my worldview and engendered empathy, and for WGS, one of the main aspects of research is listening to and affirming people’s lived experiences. Both fields are also concerned with language and power, and how language and having the ability to name things can be so liberating.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? My favorite story that I’ve ever read at Hope is Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. As far as nonfiction goes, Audre Lorde’s essay “There is No Hierarchy of Oppression” is probably my favorite.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? Right now I’ve been focusing a lot on my post-grad plans of library school, so my current research interests sit at the intersection of librarianship, feminist pedogogy, and social justice.

What are your plans for after graduation? After graduation, I’ll be attending library school to get my MLIS. After that, I plan to be a librarian.

Kaijsa Johnson

Kaijsa Johnson

What year do you plan to graduate? I am graduating Spring 2021!

If applicable, what are your major(s) and minor(s) aside from English? How do you see your English major impacting/influencing your other major(s)/minor(s)? I am also a psychology major and communications minor. My English major has been beneficial for my majors in college by helping with analysis, writing papers, and an overall better vocabulary and sentence formation. I can only see my English major helping me even more outside of college.

What is your favorite book or author? My favorite book would have to be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It has so many plot twists and an overall unique way to convey a beautiful message. However, my favorite author would have to be J.R.R. Tolkien. The worlds he creates are spectacular and the fond childhood memories I have of these worlds are near and dear to me.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? I had Professor Jesus Montano’s class American Ethnic Literature and loved every second of it, especially considering it included my favorite poet Li-Young Lee and his poem “Persimmons.”

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? New Historicism and Postcolonial Studies.

What are your plans for after graduation? I’d love to get a job in publishing or in the editorial field.

Why did you choose to study English? My family is full of English majors so I’ve always gravitated towards English. However, it was Dr. Burton’s Introduction to Literary Studies that truly solidified my passion and desire to be an English major. Her class was so engaging and enjoyable that I wanted to aim for my college career and future career to be as exciting as my first English course.

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? English is really unique as it transports me to cultures and worldviews from my own standpoint and outside of my own little world. Not only does it do this by means of reading about cultures and worldviews outside of my own, it gives my culture and worldview a different angle as it could be written through another individual with the same or much different. It also gives me tools and techniques to analyze my own worldview and others, especially with my Intro to Lit Theory course “lens” of analysis (such as feminism or postcolonialism).

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? Go for a class that interests you! You can’t go wrong with any English course offered here. The English professors here at Hope are some of the most fascinating and kind professors you’ll ever interact with. If you’re not confident in your English skills, an English class is a great way to start progressing your writing and literary skills for whatever future you have in mind. You never know, something in English may catch your eye for a future career or passion! If papers aren’t your thing, you may find them more manageable with something you’re intrigued by or passionate about.

Natalie Weg

Natalie Weg

What year do you plan to graduate? I just graduated this past semester, November 2020.

If applicable, what are your major(s) and minor(s) aside from English? How do you see your English major impacting/influencing your other major(s)/minor(s)? In addition to English, I also majored in Global Studies and minored in French. My English major helps significantly with my other academic areas because it equipped me with skills to analyze different forms of literature (even in French) and communicate effectively through my own writing.

What is your favorite book or author? My favorite books are The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Mark of the Lion series.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? My favorite book that I read at Hope was Nothing to Envy for Dr. Tan’s course in Modern History of Korea and Japan. It talks about life in North Korea from the perspectives of North Koreans who lived under the dictatorship in the ’90s and early ’00s and their changed perceptions of their nation after defecting from the country.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? I am interested in learning about topics related to cultural studies, especially East and Southeast Asian cultures. I also enjoy learning about anything that focuses on historical events and political systems.

What are your plans for after graduation? I applied for a Fulbright to teach English in South Korea. Even if I’m not selected, I still hope to teach English abroad for a year or two! After that, I hope to pursue a career as a Foreign Service Officer working for the Department of State.

Why did you choose to study English? I honestly chose to study English because my high school teachers suggested that I should pursue it. I was hesitant at first because I didn’t want to spend my entire time writing papers, but I knew that I love reading and analyzing literature. (Don’t worry, you don’t write papers all the time).

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? I’ve had several professors and teachers instill in me the idea that while the sciences can study the tangible world around us, English allows us to study the intangible: the human soul, emotions, and universal experiences. Because of this, I’ve learned to focus on the similarities that connect us and bring us together, regardless of cultural, geographic, and temporal boundaries.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything with an English major! And there always is the option of attaching an English major to any other interests you may have. It’s so important to take advantage of the liberal arts opportunity that allows you to explore several areas of study.

Have a great summer! Congrats again to all of our graduates!

2021 Senior Showcase: Volume 4

This week, we’re finishing our series on our graduating English Dept seniors. Today, we are featuring: Anna Scott, Keely Iacovoni, Katelyn Ornduff, and Andrea Lowing.

Anna Scott

Anna Scott

What year do you plan to graduate? I graduate in May 2022 (hopefully).

If applicable, what are your major(s) and minor(s) aside from English? How do you see your English major impacting/influencing your other major(s)/minor(s)? Aside from English, I picked up an economics major sophomore year. Although this isn’t a typical pairing (like Econ and business would be), I think they compliment each other well. I like getting the logical side of economics and using my language and analytical skills that I have learned in English to supplement how I interact with the course material in Econ. I also am the student who secretly gets excited about writing a paper in Econ, and am usually the only one.

What is your favorite book or author? My favorite author is Donna Tartt. I think her prose is genius and her stories are uniquely creative. I first read The Secret History by her and moved on to her Pulitzer winning The Goldfinch. Currently I am reading The Little Friend.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? For my memoir class last semester we read When Breath Becomes Air, and it was one of the most impactful books that I have read. I do not mean to stoop to anything bordering on cheesy, but the candidness and beauty of its prose will stay with me for a long time.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? I don’t do a lot of research for English, but I enjoyed writing a Shakespeare paper I did sophomore year. I find it fascinating to look at other critics and see where we differ in opinions on the same pieces. Sometimes I change my opinion but other times I’m sure I could convince them of their erring if I caught them in person. Usually I just have to contest their points in writing.

What are your plans for after graduation? After graduation, I am hoping to go to law school. I’m not sure where, but I am beginning to start researching places and to start the application process.

Why did you choose to study English? English wasn’t really the choice for me. I knew I wanted to do that ever since I hid on our laundry table as a kid with a binder and loose leaf paper writing run-on nonsense that I claimed was a story with a plot. The choice was if I was willing to deal with people asking me what I was going to do with it and if I knew that English majors didn’t make any money. In the end though I picked up the Econ major and no one ever said that again.

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? Yes. I think my English classes, especially last semester, caught me at a good time in my life—meaning a time where I was open and really eager to learn more about really whatever. I took a literary theory class with Professor Gruenler last semester, and I think that looking at the world through literature and seeing how literature looks at the world have done more to open my eyes about the events going on in our nation right now than any other source that I have sought out for that purpose. It definitely introduced me to so much that I was just not aware of before, things that my radar didn’t even have the tools to pick up that now stand out in how I see the world.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? What I would say to someone considering a degree in English is that you should probably balance it. I think if I had taken English courses, whether it be literature or writing, all the way through, I would be exhausted, but with my Econ major I feel that I can come back to the material each semester with fresh and eager eyes.

Keely Iacovoni

Keely Iacovoni

What year do you plan to graduate? May 2021

If applicable, what are your major(s) and minor(s) aside from English? How do you see your English major impacting/influencing your other major(s)/minor(s)? Aside from majoring in English writing, I decided to minor in Business. I thought that majoring in English and minoring in Business was unique to my advantage. I am able to produce impactful writing within the Business world, whether I’m sharing information that needs to be told or writing creatively for that company. I like to think that Writing and Business are a good pair for one another.

What is your favorite book or author? My favorite author is Ernest Hemingway!

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? The Nick Adams Stories – for Doc Hemenway’s class

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? I’d like to research how social media and the messages we put out on the internet affect the marketing world of Business today and how much it has changed.

What are your plans for after graduation? Right now I have no major plans! I’d like to move somewhere new and do some traveling. I’m currently a digital marketing intern for a PR firm downtown Grand Rapids, MI, called Tiicker. I love the work that I’m doing for them now and will continue to work there leading up to the Summer of 2021. With that being said, the possibilities are endless with an English degree.

Why did you choose to study English? I chose to study English for several reasons, not only because I love to write, but it allows for my creativity to flow onto a page. I love being able to connect to someone else through stories and words. English has allowed me to communicate in ways that I never thought of. By studying English at Hope, it has pushed me to become a better writer every day, and I’m very thankful for that.

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? I feel my major has impacted me and allowed me to possess certain skill sets that make me a desirable employee in many fields. Skills like critical thinking, analytical thinking, writing skills, interpersonal skills, synthetic thinking, lateral thinking, creativity, and most importantly communication skills. If you can communicate with varying audiences effectively, you can do pretty much anything. These skills have allowed me to push my boundaries and allowed me to discover new things. Our existence is meant for more than simply working and producing in order to survive. We are born to create and to enjoy and share, this is what English has taught me.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? If you value clear communication, spend your free time reading or writing, majoring in English could be the right choice for you. All English majors should be prepared to read and write often, which if you like doing, those shouldn’t be a major problem. It is vital to practice time management skills with studying for this degree. With studying this degree you will pick up on skills like critical thinking, working on deadlines, and spelling and grammar, etc. At Hope, they offer a wide course selection that also leaves room for English majors to explore other interests.

Katelyn Ornduff

Katelyn Ornduff

What year do you plan to graduate? I am graduating in May of 2021.

If applicable, what are your major(s) and minor(s) aside from English? How do you see your English major impacting/influencing your other major(s)/minor(s)? My major is technically Secondary English Education and my minor is Psychology for Secondary Education. My English focus has definitely impacted how I think about teaching, particularly as I’ve been exposed to a variety of diverse texts that could work well in an education setting. My English major and Psych minor have what I like to think is a reciprocal relationship. They each impact how I view the other. For example, I tend to view characters or relationships in literature through a psychological lens, and I’ve been able to apply characters in literature as well as authors to some of the principles I’ve learned in my psychology classes.

What is your favorite book or author? My favorite author is Jane Austen hands down! I love all her novels, but my personal favorite is Sense and Sensibility.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? I was surprised by how much I loved A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? I love to research anything about teaching English in a secondary school setting, particularly how we can incorporate new technologies and literacies in the field of ELA for our students. I also am passionate about British literature, particularly in the Victorian era.

What are your plans for after graduation? After graduation I plan to find a job teaching either middle or high school English!

Why did you choose to study English? Growing up, my English classes in school were always my happy place. I have always been an avid reader, and I love getting into deep conversations with people about books, especially when they ask questions that really make me think. Choosing this as my content focus for teaching was a no brainer, and now I am getting to share my passion for English with adolescents. I still love being part of a discussion, and now I get to learn new insights that my students have into texts.

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you?  I think studying literature has made me a more compassionate person. I’ve been privileged to read texts by many authors who have very different life experiences from my own, and it has helped me better understand cultures that differ from mine. When I read about a character that I really connect to, I am invested in the story and feel as though I experience their life events and emotions alongside them. I hope that we continue to encourage the study of diverse texts at all levels of education so that every individual can identify with a protagonist at some point in their life.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? I would encourage any prospective English major to be open to trying something new. I signed up for Doc Hemenway’s Ernest Hemingway class, which is very outside of my normal interests, and absolutely loved it. I gained so much knowledge about an author I might have never tried out. Try signing up for classes that will challenge you or that will expose you to works that you normally wouldn’t pick up.

Andrea Lowing

Andrea Lowing

What year do you plan to graduate? I am graduating in Spring of 2021!

If applicable, what are your major(s) and minor(s) aside from English? How do you see your English major impacting/influencing your other major(s)/minor(s)? I am a Secondary Special Education: Emotional Impairments major with an English minor, so I will be certified to teach English in the secondary level! English is a big passion of mine and I have found it extremely beneficial for my education major. Being an educator involves a lot of creativity and academia, much like English.

What is your favorite book or author? My favorite author is Edgar Allan Poe!

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? My favorite thing I have read here at Hope has been the play by Amiri Baraka entitled Dutchman.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? I am really interested in researching psychology and behavior studies! Along with this, I love looking into psychoanalytic theories!

Why did you choose to study English? I have always loved the study of English ever since I was young. I love reading and writing in every single way.

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? My English studies have impacted my worldview in many different ways. Most noticeably it encourages me to continue questioning the norm.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? I would encourage anyone considering getting a degree in English to absolutely do it! The study of English is an incredibly important thing to have, especially in the current world we are in. It can help us strive for a better tomorrow.

Stay tuned later this week for our final volume in this series! Congrats to all of our 2021 grads!

2021 English Department Award Winners

We have compiled our list of the 2021 Annual English Department Award winners. Although we could not gather in person to honor these students at Honors Convocation or a department award ceremony, we want to recognize these students for their exceptional work. The English Department is proud of each of you. Congratulations!

Academy of American Poets Award

College-wide national poetry award for college students. Funded by Dr. Thomas Werge, Hope class of ’63, and Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, to encourage excellent student writing and secure permanent membership for Hope College in the University and College Poetry Prize program of The Academy of American Poets. Entries are judged by department writing professors; finalist manuscripts are sent to an outside judge, who selects one winning manuscript, and one honorable mention. The winning poet is awarded $100, acknowledgement in the Academy’s newsletter and area presses, and the winning poems are forwarded to the Academy of American Poets for publication consideration in their national anthology.

Winner: Jolie Smith (’21), see this post for more details and her winning poem.

Barbara Jo Stephenson Prize

This prize, awarded each semester to the author of the paper selected as the best submitted in the first- year writing course, is given to encourage young writers.

Winner: Marvellous Ogudoro (’22) with an essay titled “The Triumphs of ‘Distanced Empathy.’” Professor Mike Owens has said this of Marvellous’s essay: “The selection committee was especially impressed by the fresh perspective that Marvellous brought to the subject and by the clarity and distinctive voice with which he expressed that perspective.” Marvellous is a former student of Emily Tucker.

Clarence DeGraaf English Award

The Clarence DeGraaf award is an award to be presented to the senior whose interest and achievement in the field of English, as indicated by academic record, most merits recognition in the judgment of the English Department faculty. The award began with 1988 Honors Convocation and is named in honor of Clarence DeGraaf, long-time chair of the English Department at Hope College. The award was established by his daughter and son-in-law Ruth DeGraaf and Lamont Dirkse and his son Daniel DeGraaf.

Winner: Natalie Weg (’20). Dr. Ernest Cole has said the following of Natalie, “In addition to her proficiency in literary studies, and the promise she has demonstrated for advanced scholarship in English, Natalie undertook the honors program in the department. Her supervisor’s assessment of her work ethic, competency, and intellectual curiosity was uplifting, impressive, and invaluable.”

George Birkhoff Prize

The George Birkhoff English Prize is an award designed to promote study of the English literature and language. The prize is awarded for an essay on a topic selected by the English Department and submitted to the department for this competition. 

The prize was established in 1888 by George Birkhoff, a benefactor of the college. His original intent had been to support and encourage the study of both English and Dutch Literature, and so two prizes were awarded for several years: one in the sophomore class in English Literature and one in the freshman class in Dutch Literature. In 1902, the prize became the dominion of the junior and senior classes. Later, in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, the topic was chosen by the faculty to relate to classroom work done in one of the literature classes open to junior and senior students, but today the prize may be won by any excellent paper on a literary subject. In 1914, the Birkhoff Prize in Dutch was discontinued.

Winner: Claire Buck for her essay “Plague and Pandemic: Science and Story” in Curtis Gruenler’s English 270 class. Dr. Ernest Cole has said this of Claire’s essay: “Claire’s paper on the pandemic and its representation was detailed, thorough, and exhaustive. Couched in the theoretical lens of Girardian mimetic theory and a brilliant analysis of critical constructs of literary criticism, Claire presented an interpretation of disease that was innovative, unique, and thoughtful.

Erika Brubaker Undergrad Award for Promising Achievements in the Study of Literature

This award is in memory of Erika Brubaker (’92) for declared English majors or minors who are at least one year from graduation and who have shown exceptional promise in the study of literature. A student will be eligible to receive this award only once.

Winners: Chloe Bartz (’22), Carter Dykstra (’22), Tara Haan (’22), Grayson Snoeyer (’22), Gabriela Rose (’23), and Jacqueline Wheeler (’23). Each student has been selected by faculty for showing exceptional proficiency in the study of literature.

Erika Brubaker Senior Award for Proficiency in Literature

This award is in memory of Erika Brubaker (’92) and presented to a senior English major who has shown exceptional proficiency in the study of literature.

Winners: Morgan Brown (’21), Hannah Jones (’21), Mitch Van Acker (’20). Dr. Ernest Cole praised Morgan Brown as “an outstanding student who has always demonstrated a keen sense of purpose, intelligence, and competence in literary studies.” Dr. Curtis Gruenler said, “Hannah Jones is an exceptional student who is as insightful and generous in her attention to literature as she is to her fellow students.” The English Faculty said of Mitch Van Acker: “It has been a joy to see him grow as a writer and literature enthusiast.”

Jennifer Young Award

This award, begun in 2008, will be presented each year to the senior whose interest and achievement as a creative writer and student of literature most merit recognition in the judgment of the English department faculty.

Winner: Safia Hattab (’21). Dr. Pablo Peschiera has said this of Sophia: “Safia Hattab’s writing exhibits the best aspects of contemporary writing: deep social engagement on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion; sincere emotion; and a desire to experiment with form and structure in the service of complex and gripping subjects. The English Department faculty is very proud of her accomplishments as a student and especially proud of her journey as a creative writer. Congratulations Safia!”

Louis and Mary Jean Lotz Prize in Creative Writing

The Louis and Mary Jean Lotz Writer’s Conference Prize in Creative Writing is an annual scholarship that pays tuition, room, and board for a Hope student to participate in the Bear River Writers’ Conference at Walloon Lake (near Petoskey, Michigan). The five-day conference is usually scheduled for the last days of May through the first days of June (Thursday afternoon through Monday morning). The award was established by Central Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, to honor Rev. Lotz and his wife (Mary Jean) upon his retirement after 13 years in ministry as their Pastoral Leader. This year, the Conference will happen remotely.

Winner: Jolie Smith (’20). Dr. Rhoda Burton has said this of Jolie: “Jolie Smith’s hybrid manuscript was selected for its technically competent craft in both nonfiction and poetry. All of the judges commented on Smith’s richly surprising discursivity and language, her distinct voice, and her excellent range.”

Sandrene Schutt for Proficiency in the Study of English Literature

The Sandrene Schutt Award for Proficiency in the Study of English Literature was established in 1967 in honor of Sandrene Schutt, English teacher at Grand Haven High School for 37 1/2 years. This award is presented to the senior who has shown this proficiency in English literature and expresses an intent to enter the teaching profession in this field.

Winner: Zachary Dankert (’21). Dr. Susanna Childress has said this of Zachary: “Zach Dankert’s innate curiosity and deep conviction fuel his literary explorations and connections as he attends both to the complex world and its inhabitants. His approach to dramatic events is not sensational, and yet he takes on harsh realities—both human and ecological/biological—without hesitation. In addition, Zach’s presence helped shape meaningful craft considerations in each of his creative writing workshops at Hope; for these and many other reasons, we believe Zach will be a wonderful teacher.”

Special Award for English – Completion of the Honors Program

The English Department would like to recognize students who choose to complete the voluntary Honors Program for the English Department.

Winner: Natalie Weg (’21). The English Department has said this of Natalie: “Natalie Weg deserves a special honor from the English Department for her completion of our Honors Program. She went above and beyond the normal requirements for the major to complete this program and the English Department would like to make a special notation for her hard work – it did not go unnoticed!”

Stephen I. Hemenway Award for Promising Achievement in English Teaching

This award in honor of “Doc” Hemenway, who has taught in the Hope College English Department since 1972, will be awarded each year to two senior English majors who show outstanding proficiency in the study of literature and future promise as stellar teachers of English.

Winners: Katelyn Ornduff (’21) and Cara Grimmer (’21). Professor Bill Moreau has said this of both students: “Katelyn is a skilled writer and a lover of all things literature. Katelyn has demonstrated that she will be an outstanding and approachable secondary English teacher. Cara will bring joy and enthusiasm to the secondary English classroom. Cara is an excellent reader and writer, and she will serve as a positive role model for her future students.”

William B. Eerdmans’ Prizes

Begun in June 1951, the William B. Eerdmans’s prize awarded $50 to the student judged best in creative writing, poetry, and another $50 to the student judged best in creative writing, prose by an outside judge. The prize is now decided by Opus judges for the best poetry and prose entry to Opus.

Winners: Cecilia O’Brien (’21) has won the poetry prize for her poem “Stephen,” and Fara Ling (’22) has won the prose prize for her story story “Quarantime.”