Vienna Summer School Back in Session

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, Hope College’s Vienna Summer School is back in session!

Dr. Stephen Hemenway and Dr. Marla Lunderberg, both from the English Department, left with their students for Austria on Tuesday. Students will be studying at the Austro-American Institute Vienna and living with host families in the area. Dr. Janis Gibbs from the Hope College History Department will be joining Dr. Hemenway at the end of this month to teach during the June Term session.

About the program

This summer’s two sessions (May, June) offer eight college credits(four each session) in numerous academic fields: Austrian Art and Architecture, Modern Austrian History, Empires of the World and Mind, Vienna’s Musical Traditions, Economic/Business Issues in Europe,  and a Senior Seminar (Vienna: Values in Transit). Field trips within Austria and excursions to neighboring countries add a significant dimension to the learning experience. The program, open to qualified applicants of any age who have completed at least one year of college before summer 2022, has a maximum of 40 students per session. Minimum grade point average for acceptance is usually around 3.00. A student on disciplinary probation will need clearance for eligibility.

Vienna features everything from famous choirboys to fabled coffeehouses, from Sachertortes to the Spanish Riding School, from baroque churches to a modern United Nations complex. While in Vienna, art/architecture students explore museums and churches; students in history and “Empires” courses, visit Habsburg residences and World War sites; music students attend operas and concerts; economics students meet with business experts; senior seminar students question distinguished speakers daily. Several of these opportunities are available to all participants, and the cost of required field trips is included. Non-credit German-conversation classes meet a few afternoons each week. Beginners find these survival sessions beneficial, while those with German abilities gain more confidence.

On weekends, Dr. Hemenway, who has led the Vienna Summer School since 1976, arranges and leads excursions to places outside of Vienna. Plans for first session include a three-day orientation in Moerbisch am See (Austria) and three-day weekends in Salzburg (Austria) and Prague (Czech Republic).  Second session features a three-day weekend in Budapest (Hungary), an overnight hiking trip in the Austrian Alps, and a weekday in Bratislava (Slovakia). Since weekend trips are considered part of the academic program, costs of transportation, hotels, guides, admissions, breakfasts, and dinners are included in the overall price for the program. 

Interested? Please contact the Hope College Off-Campus Study Program for more information.

2022 Academy of American Poets Prize

About the Prize

The Hope College Academy of American Poets (AAP) Prize award is funded by the University and College Poetry Prize program of the AAP. The academy began the program in 1955 at 10 schools, and now sponsors nearly 200 annual prizes for poetry at colleges and universities nationwide. Poets honored through the program have included Mark Doty, Louise Gluck, Joy Harjo, Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky, Sylvia Plath, Gjertrud Schnackenberg, and Charles Wright. The winning poet receives $100 from the Academy of American Poets.

About the Judge

Our 2022 Judge is the poet, Miho Nonaka. who is a native of Tokyo and a bilingual poet/translator. She is the author of a poetry collection, The Museum of Small Bones. Besides poetry of all kinds, her interests include lyric essay, memoir, Japanese literature, surrealism, and modern European literature. Her scholarly research focuses on 20th century Japanese literature, including Arechi, Tamura Ryūichi, the effects of Emily Dickinson’s poetry in Japanese translation, Endō Shūsaku’s vision of the Church beyond the east-west divide, and Murakami Haruki’s fiction and magical realism.

Winner of the 2022 Academy of American Poets Prize: 

Fara Ling 

Best of Everything

I last saw my Si Kor Poh
standing knee-deep in the drain,
throwing scoopfuls of a dull yellow liquid
from a bucket onto her Chinese kale.
When my dad parked
she walked slowly out to us,
pail of urine in her right hand and plastic bottle scoop in her left,
legs bowed away from each other,
bones built without milk
over a childhood of battling with ten siblings
for mackerel heads and chicken feet.
She held the pail away from us,
sat on the two-foot high wall,
wiped her fingers on her shorts.
I wish you – best of everything,
she said.
She cradled her fingers in her lap,
root-shaped fingers the color of fried bamboo shoots
she cooked for us several Chinese New Years ago.
Last night, like last year, we ate at a restaurant –
she’s on the wrong side of eighty with
too many relatives to cook for.
She had worn a hairpiece and thick-soled teacher’s shoes.
Lu m’tang go all the way there dui lai with an ang mor boyfriend ah,
she warned,
no coming back with a white boyfriend.
Don’t forget us.

*Si Kor Poh refers to one’s paternal grandfather’s fourth sister

Judge’s comments

At a meditative pace and through carefully chosen details, this poem takes us to another world and lets us meet the speaker’s Si Kor Poh (paternal grandfather’s fourth sister), a woman of remarkable strength and fortitude, who wishes others the “best of everything” she herself lacked in her hard life. This is a deftly crafted poem, and its power lies not only in being a vivid homage to Si Kor Poh, but also in illuminating the emotional complexity of the speaker who must navigate between multiple realms (lands, races, cultures and generations) while being powerfully pulled by the ancestral call of “Don’t forget us.”    

Honorable Mention for the 2022 Academy of American Poets Prize

Eileen Ellis 

You Said You Were Born to Be a Writer 

In that life, you were a moth –

nothing pretty like those lime green luna moths
with their tapered wingtips and twisted tails and mouths
that somewhere along the way ceased to exist. No –

you were a brown moth, you said. An American dagger moth, 
wings dripping with rows of thin black blades, mouth
left hanging open to swallow and spit out words.

No moth is ever born to be a moth
though you said you were. Maybe you just believed 
you weren’t born to do anything else – your moth-hood

was merely imitation passion pushed into absence like grout,
left to fill the hollows between tiles made of prematurely cracked cocoons 
and left sticky with caterpillar soup – enzymes left over,

you explained, from larvae unable to ever finish digesting 
themselves. In that life, you were funny in a way that made people
sorry for you. You ventured that a chrysalis cracked in two before a caterpillar 
could finish its self-dinner was not unlike a chicken egg cracked in two –

but instead of a puddle of thick, translucent egg goop,
a day 13 embryo curved like an overcooked shrimp plops 
onto the buttered pan, and blood and amniotic fluid begin 
to hiss and bubble in the heat –

and this, you rambled, is like the caterpillar 
(don’t forget this is about a caterpillar, you said,
the caterpillar that was always supposed to become a moth)

in that it is the complete opposite or maybe just dissimilar
and this must’ve been the moment you looked around and saw mouths
open and tasted sour pity in the air – except you never did notice,

at least not in that life. Deep down, I thought you must’ve known
that a moth is only alive to create more of itself. Writers always know, 
right – that they are the real story, which is why when our 36 months

came to an end, you said to me none if it mattered, 
it was all nonsense and when I asked why – why 
none of it mattered, even after the soup and the chicken 

and the egg and the shrimp and the caterpillar
(don’t forget this is about a caterpillar, I pleaded,
the caterpillar that was always supposed to become a moth),

you said it’s because the metaphor was always too obscure, anyway.

Judge’s comments

I love the dark humor and originality of this poem.  The well-worn metaphor of the chrysalis is cleverly, if cynically, undermined, and the oft-romanticized idea of being a writer becomes completely dismantled. A writer, like a moth, “is only alive to create more of itself,” suggests the poem while it repeats its shrewd warning: “don’t forget this is about a caterpillar . . . the caterpillar that was always supposed to become a moth.”

Congratulations to our winners, Fara Ling and Eileen Ellis, and a huge thank you to our guest judge, Miho Nonaka. The AAP Committee thanks all applicants for their work & we look forward to reading more next year!

English Department Awards Reception

Faculty and students gathered for a reception on Thursday, April 21 to honor and celebrate this year’s achievements.

A total of 12 department awards were presented to students by faculty members. Here is a list of the awards and honorees:

  • 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. Presented by: Dr. Stephen Hemenway Awarded to: Rachael Grochowski, Abigail Hamilton, Tara Haan and Carter Dykstra
  • The Clarence DeGraaf English Award – 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 begun 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. Presented by: Dr. Ernest Cole Awarded to: Claire Buck
  • Jennifer Young Award in Creative Writing – This cash 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. Presented by: Dr. Susanna Childress and Dr. Pablo Peschiera Awarded to: Rebecca Pannapacker and Samuel Vega
  • The George Birkhoff English Prize – The George Birkhoff English Prize is a cash 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. Presented by: Dr. Ernest Cole Awarded to: Eileen Ellis
  • Erika Brubaker (Class of 1992) Senior Award for Proficiency in Literature – A cash award in memory of Erika Brubaker and presented to a senior English major who has shown exceptional proficiency in the study of literature. Presented by: Dr. Kathleen Verduin Awarded to: Chloe Bartz, Anna Scott, Victoria Miller and Olivia Stebbins
  • Erika Brubaker (Class of 1992) Awards for Promising Achievements in the Study of Literature- Up to ten awards in memory of Erika Brubaker 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. Presented by: Dr. Stephen Hemenway Awarded to: Carole Chee, Piper Daleiden, Eileen Ellis, Hope Laurencelle, Grant McKenzie, Kallen Mohr, Andrew Silagi, Hannah Zeilbeck, Anna Hammond, and Adelyn Wilcox

Pictured left: “Doc Hemenway” and some of the Brubaker Awardees in front of a tree planted in memory of Erika Brubaker (Class of 1992).

  • The John D. Cox Award in Shakespeare Studies – The John D. Cox Award in Shakespeare studies was established in 2016 in honor of John Cox, a Hope alumnus (1967) and a distinguished scholar and teacher in the Hope English Department from 1979 until his retirement in 2015. The Award recognizes Shakespeare and scholarship, both of which were important in Cox’s career. Presented by: Dr. Marla Lunderberg Awarded to: Olivia Stebbins and Grant McKenzie
  • William B. Eerdmans’ Prizes – Begun in June 1951, the William B. Eerdmans’s prize is awarded to the student judged best in creative writing and poetry, and another awarded to the student judged best in creative writing and prose. Presented by: Dr. Susanna Childress Awarded to: Claire Buck (Poetry) and Emma Compton (Prose)
  • The Sandrene Schutt Award – 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 proficiency in English literature and expresses an intent to enter the teaching profession in this field. Presented by: Dr. Ernest Cole Awarded to: Morgan Raymond
  • 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. Presented by: Dr. Tom Sura Awarded to: Reuban Koemen
  • The Louis and Mary Jean Lotz Writers’ Conference Prize – 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). Presented by: Dr. Pablo Peschiera Awarded to: Logan Pitsenberger
  • Academy of American Poets –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. Presented by: Dr. Pablo Peschiera Awarded to: Fara Ling

Opus Soup

Greetings from Opus

Hello! My name is Adriana Barker, and I am one of the co-editors of Opus Literary & Arts Magazine. I’m a junior, a creative writing and communication double major, a photographer and a former intern for the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series. You could say I’m pretty much geeked about all things writing and art, which means I spend most of my time cornering people and talking their ear off about why Opus is the best thing ever.

This spring, Opus has built on last semester’s incredible growth, and we are incredibly excited to celebrate our new issue in a few weeks. Opus Soup is the semesterly celebration of the new issue of Opus – there’s food, copies of the new book, poetry/prose readings from our talented writers, and artist talks from our fabulous visual artists. It’s a huge family reunion, basically, of the whole artsy-writerly community at Hope. We all squirrel ourselves away into our classes and extracurriculars throughout the year so it’s great to have one big event where we can all see and celebrate one another. (And, let’s face it, most of us are introverts, so we can really only handle a few social events like this during a semester.)

In this blog post I want to give y’all a sneak peek into our upcoming issue by sharing the editor’s letters that will appear in the book. Violet Peschiera and I both wrote our own letters this year, and in them we share the things we love about Opus and what contributed to making this semester so awesome – and I get emotional about Violet graduating. But before you read those, some important business.

This semester’s Opus Soup will be held at

6 PM on Wednesday, April 27th, in Winants Auditorium (Graves Hall).

If you haven’t yet, please RSVP to attend Opus Soup! The link for guests (everyone who is not a published artist) is here: Even if you won’t be able to attend for the entire event, please take the two seconds to let us know you’re coming.

And! If you aren’t following Opus on every social media platform possible, what are you doing?

And please check out our brand-new website,! Violet and I spent all of last semester working on it, and we are super proud of it and excited to see it flourish!

Okay, okay. I won’t delay any further. Here are the editor’s letters for Opus Spring 2022.

A Letter from Violet Peschiera

Let me start by saying that Opus has brought me many friendships that have shaped me as a person and my career at Hope College. This is my fourth semester being a co-editor for Opus and my seventh semester as a member of the Opus Staff.

Opus has given me a creative space that I think is uniquely Hope-ish. I don’t think there is an undergraduate arts and literary magazine like ours anywhere else. Hope’s liberal arts education allows us to see work from various backgrounds and majors. Every semester Opus has public meetings that are open to anyone from campus, and we critique work that is from all types of artists and all types of mediums. Then once each piece has been looked at, we contact each artist and give them the critique from meetings, whether they were at the meetings or not, so that we are able to foster a progressive and growing artistic community.

For this semester’s cover and book design I took a very personal approach. Earlier in the semester I was browsing an antique store and stumbled upon some postcards from the 1900s to 1970s. It was a really great way to peek into history and see what people had kept as souvenirs. My best friend described this issue as my last letter to Opus, so I took that idea and ran with it. I see this as a souvenir and letter to myself and Opus – the design is inspired by old Opus issues and the postcards I loved. The design is a way to reflect on my past work from Opus and play with the new format in a way I find exciting.

Opus is wonderful because it works outside of the classroom critique atmosphere. We as editors strive for open and honest communication in all of the spaces we inhabit. Opus has allowed me to really build my skills as an editor and artist, but also as a mentor outside of the classroom. It is exciting to see conversations from Opus bleed into the critiques in my art classes.

I have had the privilege of working with many editors who have shaped my understanding of art and my own artistic work. I am grateful to each staff member who has helped me along the way of my journey – thank you to Julia Kirby for starting me on this journey and to the editors that follow for carrying it on after me. I am especially indebted to this semester’s staff for keeping up with Adriana and I in what has been a whirlwind of a semester. I will miss Opus and the community that has flourished around it. This magazine is the last one I will design for Opus, and I see it as a postcard to my past self. A remembrance of all the love and support that Opus has given me.

A Letter from Adriana Barker

Those of you who know me personally can attest that I cannot stop talking about Opus, so I have a little space on this page to ramble more about why I love Opus so much and the things that make this issue so cool.

I’m going to start with something I usually distance myself from – numbers. (Hey, I’m a Creative Writing major, I’m legally obligated to hate math.) In this book, you will find 41 people published. We had 45 poets, 29 visual artists, and 13 prose authors submit work. We looked at 130 poems, 103 visual art pieces, and 15 prose pieces for a grand total of 248 submissions. I am in love with our artsy-writerly community. Everyone is so talented and we are lucky to be able to steward your submissions.

This semester, we had a bunch of new friends join us at Opus meetings! Our seven contributors brought their unique taste and opinions to our meetings, and we were blessed by their presence. We also added some friends to our editorial staff. To our whole team: Katie, Emma, Rebekah, Kallen, Krystyna, and Rachel – thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to the craziness that was Opus this semester. We very literally cannot do what we do without y’all.

Across the pages of this book you will find work that ranges from abecedarian poetry to glitch art. There’s a painting made with a hammer, there’s a short story about a space sailor, there’s a charcoal and graphite rendering of the DePree basement hallway, and there’s a script for a satirical nature documentary. What I love about Opus is that we get to highlight all of this amazing work and cheer on the fabulous students who are creating it.

Speaking of fabulous students, I have to take a little time to write about my amazing Co-Editor, Violet. I can truly say there is nothing more amazing than getting to work side-by-side with someone you look up to. I didn’t know what to expect coming into this role, but Violet from the beginning was someone I could share my honest fears, hopes, and ideas with. Our partnership has brought with it some amazing steps for Opus – we built a freaking website, y’all – and I am incredibly proud of where we have brought this organization in such a short time.

I love Opus, and I love this edition. As always, I can’t wait to do it again next semester!

Adriana Barker

JRVWS Preview: Guadalupe Garcia McCall and Marcel “Fable the Poet” Price

[Editor’s note: Thanks to JRVWS intern Claire Buck for this post.]

As winter ices the sidewalks and coats the campus in snow, it’s the perfect time to come in from the cold and gather around good literature. This semester’s Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series promises community, conversation, and a lineup of diverse and talented authors starting with the first event of the season on Thursday, February 3 at 7 p.m. in the Schaap Auditorium of the Bultman Student Center. 

If you get excited about young adult literature and fiction that explores the complexities of the immigrant experience, you’ll love the work of Guadalupe Garcia McCall. McCall is a young adult novelist, educator, poet, and speaker who immigrated with her family from Mexico to Texas when she was six years old. She works as Assistant Professor of English at George Fox University; she also speaks to audiences across the countries on education, diversity in literature, and issues that impact the Latinx community. Her most recent novel, The Keeper, will be released this February and is available for pre-order. 

If you didn’t realize that the City of Grand Rapids has a Poet Laureate award, you’re not alone–I didn’t know about it until I got involved with bringing the 2017-2020 Grand Rapids Poet Laureate to campus as one of our JRVWS speakers. Marcel “Fable the Poet” Price is a writer, teaching artist, community advocate, spoken word poet, and motivational speaker. He is Executive Director of The Diatribe, an organization focused on empowering youth through the performing arts, and the author of a book of poetry titled “Adrift in a Sea of M&Ms.” You can explore his unique comic-style biography and get excited for his visit on his website

We’re so excited to bring these authors to campus, and we’re thrilled to be able to gather in person for this upcoming reading. Meanwhile, to whet your appetite, here are links to short videos of each writer: one for Guadalupe Garcia McCall, talking about her YA novel-in-verse, Shame the Stars; and one for Fable the Poet, where he offers a piece titled, “An Open Letter to Grand Rapids.”

To find out more about the JRVWS, including information and announcements about other events this semester, check out our website at or follow our Instagram (@jrvws).

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.