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 alltrails.com.

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.”


2021 American Academy of Poets Prize Winners

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.

This year the judges were creative writing faculty of the Hope College Department of English: Rhoda Burton, Susanna Childress, Susanne Davis, and Pablo Peschiera.


The Winner: Jolie Smith’s “Your Friend Calls it Cotard Delusion, Your Therapist Says ‘Stop Diagnosing Yourself ’ (in other words) the Flame Goes Out Again and Again”  

Jolie Smith (’20), winner of the 2021 AAP Prize for Poetry

The judges write:

 “Your Friend Calls it Cotard Delusion…” gave us goosebumps. This poem surprises in its turns of departure and distance traveled. The poet invites us in by addressing us directly in line one: “There’s a Shadow in the corner tonight. Sooner or later/you will understand that it’s you….” We immediately felt locked into this unique vision of self-examination. The poem gathers urgency early, and develops it with the rhetorical technique of readdressing the subject in lines like “before I forget to mention it/you will hate the shadow in the corner/of your room at night…” and “all I’m saying is there’s one last thing to tell you/one day you will taste something sweet and barely know what’s coming.” Specific in image and clear of vision, “Your Friend Calls it Cotard Delusion…” is a self-reflective, intimate, and deeply wise poem.

Your Friend Calls it Cotard Delusion, Your Therapist Says ‘Stop Diagnosing Yourself’ (in other words), and the Flame Goes Out Again

1.

There’s a Shadow in the corner tonight. Sooner or later
you will understand that it’s you (looking for a lost earring) or you (losing your mind)
or whatever else you got into last night. The Shadow will crack under
through the skylight, under the sea—turning into a face mankind forgot to confront
long ago. The world grazing your cheekbones in a single hush.

You’re eating dinner with a stranger tonight. You ask, Am I real?
She doesn’t give you a straight answer. Thinks you’re kidding,
but she never really looks you in the eye. You have yet to break
any pearly cracks of contempt. Yet to cross the desert lines of your own small child.

2.

Before I forget to mention it,
you will hate the Shadow in the corner
of your room at night and
it’s not even the long fingers
turning over your neck, but the arrival
of a darkness you’ve never met.
The licking of plums,
the spot at the back of your head
that doctors keep fixing with band aids. In dreams
fear is absent, I should warn you,
you’re just a dizzy clump of bones and not much else.
It’s so much easier to become a ghost.
I must tell you before I forget.
I must tell us all before I forget.

3.

Imagine this. There are ants crawling up and down your kitchen sink.
You reach for the vinegar and it is October 17, the sun is a bright orange ball
and the neighborhood kids are playing tag. The ants reach in and yank a bone
out of you. But it is time to move on. The person you love says, Tell me a story.

It is April 4, you are six years old, and your mom says, Look up!
She kisses under your neck. Your ears tingle from the mess.
The person you love says, That’s not a story, it’s a feeling.
And she is right because your ears still ring with mess.

It is 6am on June 28 and you are washing your favorite bowl.
The ants appear, stomping around the faucet while you try to find
what crumbs you left behind this time. The ants seem heavenly
eating up the sticky mess. They sway and circle and—

There’s a shadow in the corner tonight. Time. Such a thief.

The ants suck sweet poison from the cupboard. They’re gathered in numbers now.
You wonder if it tastes like the stream that goes down into the valley,
or the Pleiades at night. All I’m saying, and here’s this one last thing to tell you,
one day you will taste something sweet and barely know what’s coming.


Honorable Mention: Zachary Dankert’s “Mumbai Breaks Over Michigan

Zachary Dankert (’21), Honorable Mention for the 2021 AAP Prize for Poetry.

The judges write:

We were bowled over by the precise words and the images those words conjure, playful and clear. The poet built great trust through his wonderfully etched language, and the musical sensibility in the two-line stanzas beautifully evokes the paired locations in the title. “Mumbai Breaks Over Michigan” brought us the musical pleasure of language in lines like “I always loved the waters leavening asunder,/necromancing air to monsoon/ghosts of my grandmother’s India,” and “In the rain, I’m left to ruin./In ruin, to rain/that swelters past streaming by my young/grandmother and Lord Ganapati, where such heat/thickened and choked the streets.” The poet romanticizes their identification with their past, but the finely wrought imagery never allows the overly dramatic. “Mumbai Breaks Over Michigan” offers us a subtle meditation on place, past, and identity, and takes us to a double landscape we couldn’t visit without this poem and poet.

Mumbai Breaks over Michigan

It always rains when I drive
back to school. No one notices

as I nestle the superstition in heart’s
claws and quaking humors, offerings

to unnamed temples. I always loved
the waters leavening asunder,

necromancing air to monsoon
ghosts of my grandmother’s India.

what elephant-trunked murthi would you have seen
drowned in your stifling springtime?

But this rain is diluting air, drafting into ice.
There is too much of it of me slicked onto

road rearview mirrors, too much
mirroring tomorrow onto yesterday,

onto next week, next century;
clods of clay kicked up the highway.

In the rain, I’m left to ruin.
In ruin, to rain

that swelters past streaming by my young
grandmother and Lord Ganapati, where such heat

thickened and choked the streets. But here the road
is cold and the water shrinks

slithers over my windshield
yet fails to wash my skull clean.

Not enough of a watery snake
to swallow my sphere of sentiments.


The AAP Committee thanks all applicants for their work & we look forward to reading more next year!

Asian Heritage Month Book Recommendations

The month of April is Asian Heritage Month here at Hope College. It is worth drawing our attention to this year’s event in particular, as over the last year, Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders have been targeted victims of violence and unjustly and incorrectly blamed for the pandemic. This has been the case across the United States as well as here at Hope and in the surrounding community. 

That being said, it is especially important at this time to center and amplify voices of the AAPI community. Members of the English Department have put together the following list of book recommendations connected to Asian Heritage Month. Although reading books is not enough to combat the racism directed at the AAPI community, literature helps us educate ourselves and engender empathy. It’s not enough to stop at booklists, but it is an important and worthwhile place to begin. These stories matter. 

The Asian Student Union (ASU) has organized events this month, and the Asian Heritage Lecture, given by Esther K. Chae, takes place on April 22.


Memoirs/Essays/Creative Nonfiction

Paisley Rekdal’s The Broken Country has a disarmingly straightforward subtitle: “On Trauma, a Crime, and the Continuing Legacy of Vietnam.” But the unpacking of these incredibly complex elements reveals Rekdal’s insight, skill, creativity, care, and dexterity with a range of material both personal and universal, historical and medical, local and global. Rekdal wowed reading attendees with the first chapter when she visited Hope College in 2017.

In Kao Kalia Yang’s The Latehomecomer, Yang records the story of one Hmong family’s journey from Laos to the United States in the 1980s. Yang defines healthy assimilation as the ability to adapt to a new culture even as we honor the old.

Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings: An American Reckoning has been dubbed “a formidable collection of essays” by The New Yorker, though it is the award-winning poet’s first foray into nonfiction. Hong notes how she long resisted autobiography but finally had to write of the complicated hierarchy of a racialized United States, delving deep into the social construction of race, “the sense of lack,” and what it means to be both the recipient and administrator of these constructions and their dangerous cultural–and of course personal–consequences. 

Born in Saigon and having moved with her father and siblings to the U.S. a year later, Beth (Bich Minh) Nyugen shares intimate details in Stealing Buddha’s Dinner about friendships, family life and school experiences as she grows up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner explores Nguyen’s immigrant experience from the perspective of a child and can be powerfully paired with her recent essay in The New Yorker, “America Ruined My Name for Me” (April 1, 2021). Nyugen visited Hope College in 2012.

Gish Jen’s Tiger Writing gives us a generous path into a formidable intersection of topics: art, culture, and the interdependent self. Blending family memoir, craft essay, research, reflection, and cultural criticism, this book successfully touts the novel as “a meeting ground of typically American themes of independence and classically Asian ideals of interdependence.” A must-read for writers! Jen visited Hope College in 1998 to participate in the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series.

Amy Tan’s Where the Past Begins is a writer’s memoir. The best-selling author of Joy Luck Club offers shocking truths of her early life and honest recollections of her artistic uncertainty. Tan takes us on a journey that unpacks “memory, imagination, and truth, with fiction serving as both her divining rod and link to meaning.” Another must-read for writers!  

Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s illustrated book of lyric nature essays, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments spent 9 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Nezhukumatathil, of Mayalayi Indian and Filipino descent, brings a poet’s sensibility–she’s published four award-winning volumes–to unveil wonders of the natural world even as she examines injustice.


Poetry

David Cho’s Night Sessions offers vivid moments of familial relationships strained and enriched by the experience(s) of being both Korean and American. Honest and beautifully wrought, these poems reflect the resolute interlacing of culture and expectations, sport and work, language and love. Cho taught and directed American Ethnic Studies at Hope College for 11 years; he was featured in the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series in 2012.

Cathy Song’s Picture Bride explores family identities and their relationship to tradition. She’s interested in what moms owe children, and in how wives relate to husbands in a changing world. In the eponymous poem “Picture Bride,” for example, Song tells the story of her grandmother, who participated in an arranged marriage. The grandma was sent to Hawaii from Korea when she was 23, to become the wife of a much older Chinese immigrant.  Song’s interest is in how people make meaning from circumstances they cannot change.

Li Young Lee’s debut book of poetry, Rose, explores his family’s flight from the spread of communism in China, his father’s legacy of power, and their practice as Christians in a new land. Gorgeously clear, lyrical, and tender, Lee’s poems emit a transcendental power that draws the reader into his complex and sometimes difficult family history while washing his subjects and subject matter with a profound and wondrous love. A long-time friend of Jack Ridl, Lee visited Hope as part of the writers series in 1986, 1991, and 2001.

In Chen Chen’s debut collection When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Future Possibilities, the poems are both clear and lyrical, celebrating his Chinese American identity while also investigating his queerness in the context of Chinese American culture. Chen’s poems are loving, funny, and incredibly soulful. In 2019, Chen read in the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series.

In This is How the Bone Sings, Todd Kaneko writes crisply lyrical poems about fatherhood, history, and what it means to be a Japanese American whose family—all citizens of the United States—endured the WWII internment camp Minidoka in Idaho. Kaneko uses found forms like loyalty questionnaires and mythic figures like ghosts and ogres combined with lyrical poems to his son and father to access and understand the legacy of his family’s internment.


Novels/Story Collections

Through Doc Hata’s range of experiences–his boyhood growing up in an ethnic Korean community in Japan, his adoption by a Japanese couple and his service to Japan in the Pacific War, and finally, his attempts to “fit in” in small town U.S.A.–Chang-rae Lee challenges us to think about the “cultural dissonance” experienced by Hata and other characters in A Gesture Life.

In Susan Choi’s A Person of Interest, we follow Professor Lee, middle-aged “Asian-born” professor of mathematics suspected by the FBI of killing a younger, charismatic colleague with a package bomb. The package bomb turns out to have been sent by a unabomber-type figure, but that’s not the reason to read this expertly crafted novel. Choi’s focus on Lee allows us to see him in human terms: the pain at his estrangement from his daughter, a failed second marriage, and his growing realization that the country to which he has trusted his life and future after flight from an oppressive regime sees him as foreign, and automatically as suspect. Choi was featured in the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series in 2009 and teaches at Yale University.

Fatima Farheen Mirza’s 2018 debut novel, A Place for Us, was the inaugural book that actress Sarah Jessica Parker published through her imprint with Hogarth books—and also was a New York “One Book, One New York” pick. It focuses on an Indian-Muslim family of five living in Northern California, experiencing conflict between tradition and modernity, and centers on the search for home in both a metaphorical and literal sense.

Aiiieeeee!, the first edition of this anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American literature, came out in 1974. The Big Aiiieeeee!, a more comprehensive collection of Asian American literature released in 1991 and edited by Shawn Wong, includes the earliest writings that appeared in America alongside more recent essays and stories about the struggles, dreams, and experiences of Americans of Chinese and Japanese descent.

Vyvyan Loh’s Breaking the Tongue, hailed as “the most ambitious and accomplished debut novels in recent memory,” depicts the divided loyalties within one family in Singapore on the cusp of Japanese occupation during World War II. Feverish in pace and packed with tension, this novel deftly explores danger and belonging, identity and loyalty. Loh visited Hope in 2005 to participate in the Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series.

Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee, an experimental novel published in 1982, tends to defy clear categorization. Cha (a Korean immigrant, performance artist, filmmaker, and writer) uses collage in fragments of French, Chinese, and Korean, photography, letters, and historical materials to narrate the Japanese occupation before World War II and the Soviet/US spilt of the Korean peninsula after the war. A feminist novel about the damage wrought on Korean women’s bodies during the 20th century, Dictee carries tremendous poignancy: Cha was raped and killed in a violent attack by a man about a week after the publication.

Ted Chiang, hugely celebrated in the sci-fi world, offers two sci-fi collections in Exhalation: Stories and Stories of Your Life and Others. While many of these stories feature reimagined worlds that don’t necessarily reflect the contemporary experiences of Asian Americans, Chiang creates fascinating, moving visions of concepts like time travel, artificial intelligence, and mathematics.

Peter Ho Davies’ Fortunes features four loosely linked stories that come together in–perhaps collide into is a better phrase–a novel. The first three stories, based on historical figures, examines questions of identity and power, exclusion and assimilation. The final story weaves in the previous three in a profound navigation of what it means to be Chinese and American. Davies visited Hope College to read from his work in 2003.

M. Evelina Galang’s Her Wild American Self, a rich, engaging collection of stories, gives voice to Filipina Americans who grapple with their roles within the family and society, women who come to terms with the clash of Eastern and Western traditions, especially, as one reviewer puts it, “the stereotype of the subservient Asian American woman.” Galang was featured in the 2001 Jack Ridl Visiting Writers Series.

Lan Samantha Chang’s Hunger is a collection of five short stories and a novella. Each one, “depicting–with considerable insight and originality–the fault lines of assimilation,” showcases a lost love in the lives of an immigrant family of Chinese Americans. Chang was featured as a visiting writer at Hope in 2001.

Sui Sin Far’s Its Wavering Image tells the short yet profound tale of a young Chinese American woman living in Chinatown in San Francisco who meets an American reporter seeking access to the Chinese community for a story. Themes of love, betrayal, and identity come together in this piece.

Gary Pak’s Language of the Geckos is a collection of nine short stories set in Hawai’i that not only re-examines Asian diaspora but also the lasting effects of colonization. Characters include Korean Americans, Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans and Native Hawaiians; as one reviewer puts it, the “historical contexts loom ominously” even as the land itself offers “spiritual ambiance.” Pak visited Hope College in 2012 to read his work.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s debut novel, The Namesake, explores the experience of immigration through themes of identity, conflicting traditions, and the enduring power of family love.

Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a breathtaking autobiographical novel. The narrator explores generational differences of being a first-generation, gay Vietnamese American compared to his mother’s origin story in Vietnam during the War.

Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko (2017) follows the multigenerational story of a Korean family who eventually immigrates to Japan. The novel deals with themes of racism and stereotyping, along with historical events such as the Second World War, experienced by the family during the 20th-century. Apple TV+ has purchased the rights for a TV adaptation of this novel.

David Wong Louie’s Pangs of Love (1991) is a collection of twelve short stories and one essay that revolves around themes of alienation and exoticization, cultural legacy, and dispossession from an Asian-American perspective. At its heart, this collection is deeply invested in characters who are in conflict with their place in the world, tying together such experiences with food, loss, envy, understanding, and love.

Salman Rushdie’s Quichotte is the latest in Rushdie’s career as a novelist, notorious for the controversy over The Satanic Verses. Drawing both on the name and concept of Don Quixote, Rushdie’s main character searches for love with both naivete and optimism. Noted as “vintage Rushdie,” the novel is full of eccentric characters, long, boisterous paragraphs, and, as such, a refusal to assimilate Indian mythology and storytelling neatly into the Western canon. 

Quan Barry’s She Weeps Each Time You’re Born tells the story of Rabbit, a Vietnamese girl born into war and able to speak with the dead. Deeply lyrical–Barry has also published four volumes of poetry–and radiant even in, perhaps despite, its turbulence, Rabbit’s story is profoundly moving and impossible to forget. Barry visited Hope College in 2004.

Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior: Memoir of a Girlhood among Ghosts won the National Book Critics Circle Award for general non-fiction in 1976. Kingston blends autobiography with old Chinese folktales, including a version of the story later popularized by Disney as “Mulan.”

Hope alum Joshua Kam’sHow the Man in Green Saved Pahang, and Possibly the World is the author’s debut novel that rollicks through parts of Malaysia as narrated by two characters—Lydia and Gabriel—and speaks to 21st century lives in terms of gender, culture, and religion. Kam’s intelligence spills across the pages. Written in English, How the Man in Green… includes Malay, Mandarin, and Cantonese, and evokes the plurality of cultures present in Malay society. And yet the novel ultimately explores the complex adventures of two young people who find themselves swept up in magic and myth in which both—as young Malaysians—are deeply invested. Kam graduated from Hope in 2018 and was recently the winner of the 2020 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.


Graphic Memoirs and Novels

Thi Bui’s graphic memoir The Best We Could Do moves powerfully back and forth between the birth of her children and the birth of her parents’ children during their journey from Vietnam to America. The story highlights Bui and her parents’ harsh experiences trying to become Asian American and how this affects each family member as they age and create families of their own.

Mira Jacob’s Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations chronicles conversations leading up to the 2016 presidential relationship between Jacobs and her half-Indian, half-Jewish six-year-old son. Honest, humorous, and heartbreaking, these conversations haltingly cover horrifying moments in American history, interracial relationships, racial and sexual identities, and, of course, knock-knock jokes. 

Adrian Tomine’s Shortcomings follows Berkeley resident Ben Tanaka as he struggles to reconcile his relationship with politically active girlfriend Miko and his preference for Caucasian women. Noted as “piercingly realistic as any prose fiction,” this graphic novel investigates how a jaded protagonist has fully internalized white standards for beauty (along with everything that suggests and entails).


Young Adult Novels

In Addie Tsai’s Dear Twin, the early teenage narrator, Poppy Uzumaki, uses an epistolary format (including letters, texts, and emails) combined with first-person point of view to communicate to her abused and mysteriously missing twin sister, Lola. Living in a restrictive Chinese household, bi-racial Poppy contemplates identity, family, friendship, loyalty and feelings of abandonment by her mother and twin sister. Thoroughly contemporary in style, Tsai’s debut novel investigates what it means to be a bi-racial Asian American in the 21st century and how to navigate the world as a queer young woman.

The Downstairs Girl and Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee. Both are excellent historical novels about the Asian American experience, one set amidst the women’s suffrage movement, the other during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

In Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl (Rick Riordan Presents Series), science fiction, especially space exploration stories, meets Korean mythology. Look for shape-shifting and other mythic elements from the Korean storytelling repertoire. In marrying conventional American space stories with Korean mythology, this novel reshapes how we understand the vagaries of discovery and exploration, funneling them into a textual vessel in which thirteen-year-old Min must use what is at her disposal, that is, courage and cleverness at the center of her fox-magic powers. By insisting that Min draw on her cultural wealth for her success, the novel invites us to understand that one’s home planet may not have many goods but it is rich in other things, powerful things such as stories. (Mythological Realism is the term we use for YA novels that incorporate mythology and magical realism. Madeline Miller’s Circe is a good example, as are the Percy Jackson novels by Rick Riordan. In recent years, Riordan has made it his calling to center authors who treat mythologies outside of the Western tradition. The novels thus present the lived experiences of diasporic youth in the U.S.)

Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again tracks the lives of a Vietnamese family as they leave Vietnam at the end of the war and emigrate to Alabama. The father’s possible death haunts the family even as they have to cross linguistic and cultural barriers in America. The dynamics of cultural refashioning are highlighted throughout the novel, in the importance of Bruce Lee to one of the brothers, for example. Much like An Na’s A Step from Heaven, Inside Out and Back Again underscores the power of voice and of storytelling in overcoming the bewildering processes at the core of immigration.

Erin Estrada Kelly’s Lalani of the Distant Sea traverses much of the same narrative ground as Moana but drawing instead on Filipino folklore. At the core of each of these stories are girls who venture forth into the world in order to save their communities. Thus, unlike their male counterparts in adventure novels, the quest that these young women fulfill is societally reparative, as opposed to individualistic. In this novel, Lalani sails from her home island to the paradisiacal Mount Isa in search of a cure for her mother as well as for community. Fighting evil is hard and the obstacles mount as the story unfolds. Showing determination and courage, Lalani completes the heroic journey by coming back home to bestow what she has learned to her community. Her return, in this way, marks an important component in literary works that emanate from diasporic communities.

Randy Ribay, Patron Saints of Nothing tells the story of Jay Reguero, a Filipino-American high school senior from Michigan (Ann Arbor area) who travels to the Philippines, his family’s homeland. There, Jay seeks out answers to the death of his cousin Jun who was murdered in President Duarte’s war on drugs. This powerful coming-of-age novel speaks to questions of identity, family, justice and faith.

If you liked Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel, American Born Chinese, check out his more recent Superman Smashes the Klan, recommended by Professor Postma-Montaño and her students in ENGL 113: Activist Americas. The graphic novel highlights the experience of a Chinese-American family, the Lees, as they move from Chinatown into downtown Metropolis in 1946. The Lees face many forms of subtle and explicit racism, including attacks by the Klu Klux Klan. While Superman swoops in to help the Lees, we also see the daughter Roberta growing as an activist in the novel. Roberta uses the power of observation and the pen to fight racism.

Julia Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine, the Lakeshore/Hope College Big Read book for 2017, is told in spare, paratactical prose. In this novel, the West in the American Imagination, specifically around issues of mobility and freedom, is contested and challenged. Postcards and other travel/leisure paraphernalia contrast the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WW II. There is much to love about the language and its deployment in this novel. At the same time, this novel provides us a window into the ways degradation fundamentally alters conceptions of self. Paired with readings on generational trauma, Otsuka’s novel offers a view of how trauma can and often does span multiple generations.


Happy reading, Hope College!

2021 Senior Showcase – Volume 3

This week, we’re continuing our series on our graduating English Dept seniors. Blogs Administrator Hannah Jones interviewed 3 more seniors: Celia O’Brien, Casey Schafer, and Samuel Vega.


Celia O’Brien

Celia O’Brien (’21)

What year do you plan to graduate? I will be graduating in the Spring of 2021.

What is your major? I am an English, Creative Writing major and a Studio Art minor. I think my English major has been a vessel for my other forms of creativity. I’m constantly looking for ways to combine my art and my writing!

What is your favorite book or author? I have a soft spot for the books of my middle school career: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye. I usually list them as my current favorites too because no others come to mind in time.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? I read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi for Intermediate Nonfiction with Rhoda Burton. Not one second of reading that book ever felt like homework. It captivated me.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? I have found myself very interested in poetry. I don’t know if I would call it “research,” but I do know that I spend a lot of time delving into the world of Instagram poetry accounts and the “Poetry” aisle at Barnes and Noble.

What are your plans for after graduation? Ah yes, a much too familiar question these days. I don’t have a plan quite yet, but as I look for something, my goal has been to be open to a lot of different opportunities. My interests extend to several different creative fields: design, music, writing. I would love to find a collision of my artistic hobbies and call it a career, but for now I’m just freshening up my resume and occasionally scrolling through Linked In. If I HAVE to answer the question more bluntly, I would love to try and find a job or internship in either publishing or graphic design.

Why did you choose to study English? My mind processes the world in a specific way and it felt like English was the only subject that allowed my thoughts out in an accurate way. I think I also got a couple nudges from high school teachers that helped me officially choose it as a major. Maybe it’s a bad reason but I hated every other subject. Math and Science don’t go well for me since I can’t look at numbers for too long (Crossword>Sudoku).

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? I have read many different authors, styles, and voices that I would otherwise not have gotten the chance to listen to. It has also allowed me to think about who I am and learn about myself. I like that balance.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? Majoring in English has been rewarding in unpredictable ways. I believe it’s a unique experience for each individual and you get out of it what you put in. If you are willing to put time and energy into your writing/reading skills, you can and should major in English.


Casey Schafer

Casey Schafer (’21)

My name is Casey Schafer and I am a senior graduating in May of 2021 with a major in English Literature and a minor in History. I have known since high school, especially after taking AP Literature as a senior, that I wanted to major in English when I came to college. My decision to minor in History came a little later into my college career. I enjoyed the history classes I took in high school, and even came into Hope with a good amount of history credit due to my AP tests. I loved the way my education in English and History worked together during my time at Hope. Having a solid understanding of history made many of the texts I read for my English classes even richer and the writing skills learned in my English classes translated well when I wrote papers for my history classes. 

Reading has been one of my favorite pastimes from a young age and even though I am growing up, I still find myself drawn to young adult novels. One of my favorite books is The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer. In addition, Leigh Bardugo’s books, particularly Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom, hold a special place in my heart. Series where authors create their own world are some of my favorites to read because of the attention to detail and the exciting escape they offer. In my time at Hope, my favorite book that I have read for class would be When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. I came across this book while taking a memoir class with Professor Burton. The beautiful language and heartbreaking story immediately pulled me in and kept me enthralled throughout the entire book. 

After graduation, I plan on continuing my internship with Humanscale that I started working this semester while I study to take the LSAT. While working for a year, I plan to apply to law schools in order to start in the fall of 2022. My plan to attend law school made my decision to major in English an easy one. I’ve almost felt the most comfortable with a book in my hand and quickly learned in high school that I love talking about books as much as I love reading them. My classes at Hope allowed me to pursue my passion for literature and writing while also preparing me for law school. By including history into my studies at Hope, my eyes were opened to another perspective on literature. I became more aware of the past and how those events shaped the world we live in today. I learned to better understand people through their experiences expressed in history and literature. My time at Hope has opened me up to many worldviews that I had never been exposed to before. I have learned the importance of listening to others’ stories, especially the stories of those very different from myself. Throughout my studies over the past four years, I have grown as a person and as a citizen. I’m forever thankful for my time at Hope and all that I have learned from the wonderful professors.


Samuel Vega

Samuel Vega (’21)

What year do you plan to graduate? December 2021.

What is your major? Aside from an English major, the hope is that also having a Spanish minor will open up doors to experience creativity and storytelling from various other cultures, while also providing the opportunity to strengthen a personal connection with my own Latino heritage.

What is your favorite book or author? My absolute favorite book would have to be Fire Bringer by David Clement-Davies. The plot is basically Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings with deer characters, but I believe that a well-told fantasy is always a welcome, refreshing thrill.

What is your favorite book/short story/etc. that you’ve read for class at Hope? It would have to be a tie between The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and Cenzontle by Marcelo Castillo Hernandez. The quiet power of The Namesake was the very reason why stories about identity became even more fascinating to read. I also had the chance to meet Marcelo in person while being his campus escort for the Visiting Writers Series, and he changed my life after telling me that writing about hardship is actually a blessing, if one decides to view it as a moment of bliss and release.

What are some research interests/topics you like to study? While topics such as culture and mythology are always fascinating because of how much they teach about uniqueness and believing in things that are bigger than yourself. Recently I have become obsessed with any story that deals with overcoming fear. There is something undeniably beautiful about the study of gaining courage.

What are your plans for after graduation? Despite being loose ideas, the hope is to explore possibilities involving work with the Episcopal Service Corps, graduate programs involving writing and linguistics, possible employment with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and the more immediate hope of becoming a pet groomer.

Why did you choose to study English? The funny thing is that I’ve bounced around quite a bit. I considered about eight different fields of study before finally deciding on English. I was tired of hearing stories about how starving writers are the only kinds of people who come out of studying English, and my final choice to study English rose from a desire to become someone who changes the narrative. A desire to join and promote a new narrative: that studying and succeeding in English can look like anything as long as it incites passion.

In all honesty, ever since my ENGL 113 professor and I once had a conversation about how much potential he saw in me, that has been a driving reason behind my continued pursuit of storytelling. As I continue to study, it becomes more of a motivation to maintain a sense of curiosity, so that your sense of open-mindedness only grows with every story you hear.

How has your English major impacted your worldview? How has it shaped you? The major itself has taught me that great legends with timely lessons exist practically everywhere. I’ve fallen in love with being curious again, and with this growing curiosity, it became a desire to learn how to listen well before learning how to craft well.

What advice would you give to someone considering a degree in English? To anyone considering studying in English, my advice would be to invite opportunities that help you to accept change. It’s a field that requires one to be adaptable, but also know that this is a program where it’s incredibly easy to ask for help. Above all, people studying English should know that much like art itself, everyone’s creation styles should be encouraged to stand out and be unique. Such variety is only a part of the beauty that comes from expressing your creative voice.

Summer & Fall 2021 Course Preview

We’re sharing some previews of our upper-level course offerings this week. Remember, Fall 2021 Registration starts Monday, March 29th!


Summer 2021 Courses

ENGL 155: Creative Writing—Poetry | Dr. Pablo Peschiera | May Term & June Term, 2021 | Online, MTWRF 9:00 am – 9:50 am

Why do we love to know the lyrics to a song? Why do we listen to music? Because of the pleasure of sounds and words. Everyone has a desire to experience the pleasure of sounds and words—that is the essence of poetry. This class is all about playing with language while expressing ourselves. We’ll look at some rap lyrics, read lots of contemporary poems, and write every day. We’ll watch videos of poets reading and talking about their work, and learn why poetry is important to readers of poetry. As a 2 credit, FA2, summer course, our goal is to experience what it means to be creative and join a rich creative community. We’ll talk about what art is for, what poetry is for, and how poets do what they do.

This course will be remote synchronous, so all assignments and materials (besides the textbook) will be delivered through Moodle.

Required text: Poetry: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology by W. Todd Kaneko and Amorak Huey. 2 Credits.

ENGL 233: Ancient Global Literatures | Dr. Ernest Cole | May Term 2021 | Online Asynchronous

Ancient Global Literatures is a four-credit course that fulfills the Cultural Heritage 1 and Cultural Diversity requirements of the General Education program. It presents a dialogic perspective of the Ancient literatures of the East and Western traditions within a fresh and diverse range of selections. It seeks to examine the world’s great literature and by exploring the historical, philosophical, social as well as the literary and cultural links between past and present, East and West. The course would draw from selections including epic and lyric poetry, drama, and prose narrative, and focus on the oral narratives of Ancient Africa and the Middle East. (CH2, CD4, GL1). 4 Credits.

ENGL 234: Modern Global Literatures | Dr. Ernest Cole | June Term 2021| Online Asynchronous

This 4-credit online synchronous 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. (CH2, CD4, GL1). 4 Credits.


Fall 2021 Courses

ENGL 214-01 & 02: Workplace Writing | Prof. Mike Owens | (01) MW 9:30 – 10:20 am; (02) MW 11:00 am – 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 231-01: Literature Western World I | Dr. Stephen Hemenway | MWF 11-11:50 AM

If the COVID-19 situation permits, I shall once again enjoy teaching this course which launched my Hope College career 50 year ago! 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 | Cultural Heritage I (CH1)

English 231-02: Literature of the Western World I | Dr. Jesus Montaño | MWF 12-12:50 AM

Book shelves along a corridor lit by hanging edison bulbs.

Our objective: to journey into the past to recover, or discover, our cultural wealth. The journey will not be easy. Along the way, we will encounter new ways of looking at ourselves via culture and literature. This journey will make us look at what we are and what we are not, as those things are informed by what has been bequeathed us. The goal of this course is to investigate our cultural heritage from multiple viewpoints. In this, we recognize how entangled our own modern world is with the past as well as how past cultures are intertwined in our world. What we will find is that Greek, Roman, and European societies possessed many cultures, and perhaps counter cultures. Moreover, we also find that those cultures and societies are integrally tied to ours, as we make use of ideas and concepts from them in our world making. In this journey you will hone your critical reading and writing skills as we travel from the works of Homer to those of the Aztecs. 4 Credits | Cultural Heritage I (CH1)

ENGL 232-01: Literature Western World II | Dr. Kathleen Verduin | MWF 2:00 – 2:50 PM

This course covers a selection of the European (including English) literary classics from the seventeenth century to the twentieth. We alternate narratives and plays. We study the works for their own merit, but we also look at them as reflections of their time and place—and also of the literary and cultural trends that helped produce them. Of course it’s impossible to do justice to the rich heritage of European literature in the time allotted, but we hope that this preliminary exposure will encourage a life-long habit of reading. To give coherence to our reading, we will associate at least some of the works on the syllabus with Joseph Campbell’s well known theory of the archetypal Hero’s Journey: separation, initiation, and return. What got these heroes going? What did they seek? And how can their journeys guide us in the journeys that we ourselves must undertake? 4 Credits | Cultural Heritage II (CH2)

ENGL 248-01: Intro to Literary Studies | Dr. Jesus Montaño | MWF 12:00 – 12:50 PM

Subtitle: Monsters, from Beowulf to Beloved
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 253-01: Introduction to Creative Writing| Susanna Childress | TR 9:30-10:50 AM

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 literary 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 | The Arts II (FA2)

ENGL 253-02: Intro to Creative Writing | Susanne Davis | TR 4-5:20 PM

An introduction to the craft of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, including reading as a writer. No prior writing experience required. 4 Credits | The Arts II (FA2)

ENGL 270-01: British Literature I | Marla Lunderberg | MWF 11-11:50 AM

As we navigate British Literature from 875 to 1800, we’ll investigate what our texts show about the role of women, conventions of love, the exercise of authority, and the role of art in society. We’ll explore the ways different eras portray heroism—and monstrosity. Your job will be to read thoughtfully and to assess the assigned texts with curiosity, creativity and critical thinking. Class will be conducted through mini-lectures and class discussion. Writing assignments will be designed to support your exploration of the readings. 4 Credits.

ENGL 281-01: American Literature II | Lisa McGungal | TR 12-1:20 PM

In this course, students will examine a survey of literary genres including fiction, autobiography, poetry, and drama in American literature from 1865 to the present. Note that, for the purposes of this class, “American” refers to the United States. Additionally, “American” in this course refers not only to writers born/living in the U.S. but also writers who immigrated to and/or emigrated from this country. We will learn and engage with different conceptions of American identity as the texts we read and study will portray varying, and at times conflicting, experiences of living in the United States. Students will identify common literary elements in each genre, understanding how they influence meaning as well as speak across texts. This course emphasizes basic tools of literary analysis: close reading, library research, and attention to socio-cultural/historical contexts. Since this is a survey, we move at a swift pace but simultaneously immerse ourselves in the dedicated text(s) of each class. Authors we’ll be reading include Sandra Cisneros, W.E.B. Du Bois, Leslie Marmon Silko, Langston Hughes, Mark Twain, Sarah Orne Jewett, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. 4 Credits.

ENGL 355-01: Intermediate Creative Poetry Writing | Pablo Peschiera | TR 1:30 – 2:50 PM

Through language, poetry gives us music while it helps us investigate what it means to be alive. We’ll study that “language music,” many kinds of poetic form and how to best use them, practicing those forms and adapting them to your own purposes. We’ll read and analyse rap lyrics, find their rhythmic and formal patterns, and make connections between rap and poetry. You’ll experiment with your own fundamental speech rhythms while you think more deeply about lines, sentences, and stanzas. You’ll write poems—tons of poems! We’ll read lots among a diverse range of contemporary poets, and learn to see form for what it really is: the pace of our minds, and the heartbeat of poetry. 4 Credits | The Arts II (FA2)

ENGL 358-01: Intermediate Creative Nonfiction Writing | Susanna Childress | TR 12-1.20 PM

In a genre defined primarily by what it is not, Creative Nonfiction holds wild possibilities for what, indeed, it is. Could that be why CNF is experiencing such a staggering renaissance? It persuades, parades, obsesses, researches, meditates, marvels, rages, responds, defends, defines, deliberates, narrates, rotates, invites closer observation, magnifies, refracts, re-purposes, revitalizes, remembers, recognizes, and celebrates moments of incredible particularity and proportion. CNF is a map, a recipe, a podcast. And in this class, we’ll try it all. Pulitzer-prize winner Ron Powers asserts that, as a storytelling species, CNF “satisfies our hunger for the real and our need to make sense…out of chaos.” So come to this class hungry for the real, ready to be inventive, raw, timely, timeless, and in touch with your inner storyteller. Prerequisites: Engl 253 or equivalent. 4 Credits.

ENGL 360-01: Modern English Grammar | Kathleen Verduin | MWF 9:30 – 10:20 AM

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 373-01: Shakespeare | Marla Lunderberg | TR 1:30 – 2:50 PM

Questions of Justice in Shakespeare’s Plays: Society’s Treatment of the “Other”
Many of Shakespeare’s plays explore what it means to be treated as an outsider. Studying these plays can guide us in questioning issues of justice when women are treated as possessions, Jewish merchants are ridiculed, and military commanders are questioned because of the color of their skin. In this course, we will work our way together through several plays, reading and watching and studying and arguing about the meaning we find in them. We will examine the historical and literary contexts, studying the plays as literature and as performance pieces and assessing various critical approaches’ insights. 4 Credits.

ENGL 375-01: Children’s and Young Adult Lit | Regan Postma-Montaño | MWF 2-2:50 PM

I invite you to think about kids and their work to save the world! In the Percy Jackson series, Percy and his cohort of demigods tangle with rebellious gods to save the world from evil. Fighting evil, in the form of Nazism, is likewise positioned in The Diary of Anne Frank and Number the Stars. The same emphasis is true of ecojustice narratives such as Stella Diaz Never Gives Up where Stella finds ways to help the oceans and its denizens from the dangers of pollution or Ship Breaker, in which the characters deal with the aftermath of climate change. Standing up to constricting social and racial practices is the topic of concern in Piecing Me Together, Out of the Dust, and Apple in the Middle. What our readings hold in common is kids’ active engagement in creating a better world.

The goal of this course is to explore a wide range of kid lit, including mythological fantasy, historical novels, picture books, and realistic fiction. Due to our emphasis on how kids save the world, we will devote attention to struggles against evil (historical and fictional), environmental concerns, and social justice issues. By exploring literature for children and young adults in this way, we will see kids as the catalyst for dynamic change and their work to transform our world. 4 Credits | GLD

ENGL 380-01: Teaching Secondary School Engl | Bill Moreau | W 3-5:50 PM

Are you an English major who wants to be an English teacher in a secondary school? Are you an English minor or special education pre-service student who may end up teaching some English as part of your future career choice? If any of these situations fits you, this class is designed to help.

We’ll learn concrete, practical methods for choosing and teaching literature, for teaching and evaluating the process of writing, and for presenting the study of grammar and usage. Topics of interest related to the profession of classroom teaching as a whole will also be shared. Class sessions will include informal lectures, student projects and presentations (a.k.a. teaching), and discussions. We will read from four books and a mountain of handouts. (Four credits total—three for the class, one for a clinical experience TBD.) 3 Credits.

ENGL 454-01: Advanced Fiction Writing| Susanna Childress | TR 1.30-2.50 PM

Have you written a series of short stories or a novel? Do you want to? How could you work towards writing both—at the same time? In this course, we’ll focus on linked stories, aka story cycles, and how they work as a kind of Super Novel. We’ll be reading award winners like Erdrich’s Love Medicine and Bump’s Everywhere You Don’t Belong. We’ll be writing—slowly, steadily—and workshopping roughly 40 pages of your linked shorts. Be ready to read and to write—you’ll do plenty of both! And as you do, be ready to fall in love with the story cycle and kick it with other linked-story lovers. 4 Credits.

ENGL 480-01: Introduction to Literary Theory | Curtis Gruenler | TR 9:30-10:50 AM

Literary theory equips you to think better about how to read and why, and maybe to enjoy it more too. Tour major schools of thought from Plato to the twenty-first century, such as formalism, structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalytic criticism, gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial criticism, ecocriticism, and disability theory. Meet theorists such as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, René Girard, Adrienne Rich, Judith Butler, Edward Said, Chinua Achebe, and Wendell Berry. Connect literature to other disciplines such as philosophy, theology, and the social sciences. You’ll have a chance to write and talk critically about whatever texts you like—stories, poems, films, TV, games, etc. The course will be conducted as a seminar with several short papers and two longer ones. 4 Credits.

The full schedule can be found here.

2021 Senior Showcase – Internship Feature

Senior Mary Laffey speaks with our blogs administrator Hannah Jones, and shares her internship experiences working with both the Van Wylen Library and the Joint Archives of Holland.

Marry Laffey (’21)

What did you work on at Van Wylen? What was your favorite aspect of that internship?
My internship at Van Wylen involved four main “projects”: rewriting databases, interviewing librarians, learning how the library acquires books, and creating my own display in the library. I worked with another student, Becca Stanton, to eliminate confusing jargon from the library’s database descriptions, replacing it with accurate descriptions of the resources each database offered. I also interviewed about 10 librarians, as well as other employees in the library, asking questions about where they attended library science school, what they loved about their jobs, and how they came to their position at Hope. I also shadowed several librarians as they showed me how to order books online, process these books, label them, and finally place them on display in the library. My display was going to be based upon mental illness, but before we could create the display, COVID hit. Thankfully my internship translated pretty well online, and I did my “display” in the form of a LibGuide (an online display of sorts) but I was disappointed that I never got to finish my project.

What are you currently working on at the Archives? What do you like best about this internship?
Unfortunately due to COVID I have had to quarantine twice this semester and have not the chance to spend a solid amount of time working at the archives! When I have been able to be in-person, I’ve worked with diaries, letters, and journals dating back to the early 1900s all from the same family (The Hondelink Family) and I have a lot of freedom in how I organize these materials. Some of my online projects have been transcribing a letter from a WWI soldier.

How do you see your internships being informed by your English major? Are there connections across both internships that you’re making?
Both of my internships have allowed me to further cultivate my love of learning and history in working on projects that allowed me to emphasize the importance of stories. At Van Wylen, I was able to create an entire display on memoirs from people who struggle with mental health, and at the archives, I am reorganizing and transcribing materials so that future generations can hear these people’s remarkable journeys.

What are your plans for post-graduation?
After graduation, I plan to try and find a part-time job or an internship at a public library to get some experience before heading to Graduate School in Library Science. If that is not possible, I hope to gain a position as a technical writer for a charity organization.

What has been your favorite English class (or classes) at Hope?
So many to choose from! I’ve loved taking Intro to Literary Studies with Rhoda Burton, Jane Austen & Oscar Wilde with Emily Tucker, Intro to Literary Theory with Curtis Gruenler, Western Lit with Doc Hemenway, and American Ethnic Literature with Jesus Montano. Honestly though, all the English professors are intelligent, funny, kind, and amazing human beings so no matter what you take, you’ll enjoy it.

Here’s the link to Mary’s LibGuide. If you are interested in adding an internship as part of your Hope College experience, reach out to your advisor to see how to get this set up!