Skip to Navigation | Skip to Content

Featured English courses: Fall 2012

ENGLISH cluster: British Literature and Written Rhetoric

Professors Jennifer Holberg and Jane Zwart
open to all honors students
ENGL 101 BH: “Written Rhetoric,” Mon/Wed/Fri 9:00–9:50; 3 credit hours
ENGL 214 AH: “Survey of British Literature III,” Mon/Wed/Fri 8:00–8:50; 3 credit hours
The words “British literature” may conjure up for you a number of images: everything from Emily Bronte’s wild moors or Wordsworth’s daffodils or Dickens’ crazy cast of characters--or maybe just a picture of the prim gossip of ladies having tea. Whatever the case, this cluster is for you because this course examines some of the most vibrant literature ever written—it might even surprise you, whatever your assumptions. These two courses will examine British Literature (from the 19th century to the present) in all its complexity and will allow students to wrestle with matters of both historical importance and continuing relevance, from gender roles to religious belief, from the constraints of social class to the power wielded by empires. Indeed, as this survey of British literature and this writing class will be fully integrated, students will deepen their understanding of this period while also honing the skills crucial to deft writers and insightful readers. Writing and research projects for Written Rhetoric, then, will permit students to examine the context and consequences of the literature they read even as British Literature III will help students to hone their writing. To this end, both professors will teach elements of both these courses. Enrollment in this cluster is limited to 17 students. English 101 satisfies the core requirement in Written Rhetoric. English 214 satisfies the core requirement in Literature.

English 101: Written Rhetoric - Food Matters

Prof. Sarina Moore
Conversations about food have preoccupied the American public discourse for at least the past decade. Are we a fast food nation now?  Is obesity a national epidemic? And if so, what can we do about it? What are the ethical responsibilities of consumers when buying food? Locavore, organic, agri-business, fair-trade, food deserts: what does this terminology mean? This class will explore many of these questions while we practice a variety of rhetorical models: argument and research papers; personal narrative and interviews; and public policy or advocacy position papers. Join us as we read, talk, and write about food (we may even cook and eat some along the way).

English 101: Written Rhetoric

Prof. Jane Zwart
Students in this course will approach the tasks of writing and editing, of research and revision by many avenues. For instance, exercises in imitating other writers' voices, analyzing visual rhetoric, and voicing their own convictions--whether about our culture's failings or a text's virtues--will shape students' writing (and learning) in this class. Indeed, to equip faithful student writers for both their college and post-college careers is the central objective for this course.

English 101: Written Rhetoric - Quests for God in the Movies

Prof. Roy Anker
Most of the essay assignments in this rendition of English 100 will respond to a series of wonderful films that focus on individual searches for God.  The first, Dead Man Walking (1995), based on the book by Sister Helen Prejean, fastens on questions of the justice of capital punishment but also, and even more so, on whether God can show up on death row.  From there we look at a film by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs), Wide Awake (1998), about a grieving sixth-grader’s very funny and moving search for God.  After that, we move to a gorgeous film from Iran, Majid Majidi’s The Color of Paradise (1999), the story of sightless boy’s effort to “see” God.  We conclude with last year’s winner at the Cannes Film Festival, American Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011), starring Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and Sean Penn, a tale about growing up in the fifties in Texas and the loss and recovery of religious belief.  The course will require two books, five essays (not including revisions), and a research paper.  The goal is the achievement of clear, concise, and cogent writing of the sort that makes for success in college and in the workplace. 

English 101: Written Rhetoric – for Engineering majors

Prof. Karen Saupe
Mon/Wed/Fri 9:00 A.M.
This section is designated for Engineering majors.

English 200: Literature in a Global Context - Mostly Epic Adventures

Prof. David Urban
My sections of English 200 will focus on epic adventures, and we’ll be reading a number classic epics that represent the some of the most important works of Greek, Roman, Indian, Chinese, Italian, and British literature and which take place within a number of different religious milieus, including classic Greek and Roman paganism (Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid), Hinduism (The Bhagavad-Gita) Chinese Buddhism and folk religion (Wu Ch’eng-en’s Monkey), and Christianity (John Milton’s Paradise Lost).  We will also examine three important plays, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Antigone and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and an excerpt from the Confessions of Augustine, the great North African Bishop.  We will pay special attention to how different texts from different cultures interact with each other, and how we—as readers from cultures different from those of the texts—interact with these texts. One important theme that will run throughout the course is an investigation of what does and does not constitute heroism in the different works we read.  This course will be especially useful for students who desire to familiarize themselves with classic literary texts that have profoundly influenced subsequent generations of authors.

English 200: Literature in a Global Context - Home and Exile

Prof. Roy Anker
We go exploring, following a host of characters journeying to move from one pole of human experience to another—from exile and home.  We begin (where else?) with Genesis, move to Odysseus trying to get home after the Trojan War, Oedipus running from one home to find another, and we then leap to the modern Europeans in stories by Jonathan Swift, Leo Tolstoy, and Franz Kafka.  We end in Africa with novels by Chinua Achebe and Alan Paton.  The course concludes with examples of the theme from contemporary Hollywood film.  The course requires two essays, two exams, and class discussion.

English 226A: Ethnicity and American Literature

Prof. Jane Zwart
Students in this course will engage texts—both fictional and biographical, both prose and poetry—by writers whose ethnic and cultural backgrounds require them to name themselves with hyphens or parentheses. From the early 19th-century memoir of Sioux Zitkala-Sa (whom missionaries christened Gertrude Simmons Bonnin) to a postmodernist novel by the Jewish-American Jonathan Safran Foer, the literature that students in this class examine will hinge on universal questions. This course's themes, that is, include the following: history and memory, home and migration, faith and betrayal.

English 230:  Understanding Literature / Environmental Literature

Prof. Susan M. Felch
Tues/Thurs 12:05–1:20 PM
Stories, poems, plays, and creative essays—all those bits of writing that we call “literature”—invite us to linger in imaginary worlds, to slow down, to think more deeply about ourselves, our relationships, our God, and the real world in which we live. This course will focus on literature that explores ideas, actions, and moral decision-making as these relate to issues raised by environmental and creation care movements. We’ll read works by Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Aldo Leopold, William Shakespeare and others, works that take us from forests to deserts to cities to oceans to suburbs to our own backyards. Literature also encourages us to look closely at language, at what it can do and what it can’t quite manage to say. We never exactly “get it right” when we speak, so we keep telling stories, writing poems, and talking to each other.  “Look,” authors tell us, “it’s like this,” as they circle around and burrow into the world that God has made.  Because words always take their meaning from a larger context, we’ll take some time to see how key terms—creation, nature, culture, place, wilderness, justice, and others—have been defined and used. We’ll look at how literature develops “what if” scenarios, and we’ll think about how it can help us become more attentive to our own lives and to the lives of others.

English/CAS 238: Film as a Narrative Art

Prof. Roy Anker
The course explores the kinds of stories cinema tells—and tells well. We begin with the satisfactions of conventional narrative in such classic myth-laden films as Ferris Bueler’s Day Off, The Shawshank Redemption, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  It will then move to explore innovative forms:  those that scramble chronology (Terrence Malick’s war film, The Thin Red Line and Stephen Daldry’s The Hours), trace strange “networks” of people (P. T. Anderson’s Magnolia), and explore surprising appearance of the sacred in human life (Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Blue and Heaven)in surprise networks  The course will also allow for several films suggested by students. The instructional format will be discussion, and several short essays will form the primary means of evaluation, though students will be tested to make sure they have seen all the films.  A lab time for viewing films in Bytwerk is provided, though attendance there is entirely optional. 

English 299: J.R.R. Tolkien

Prof. Chad Engbers
This course studies the major fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien (e.g., The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion) in multiple historical contexts, including the northern European medieval heroic tradition from which Tolkien drew (e.g., The Volsung Saga, The Niebelungenlied, Beowulf) and the twentieth century war poets who were his contemporaries (e.g., Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves). The course also includes attention to Tolkien’s own work as a translator, critic, and theorist, and to recent criticism of Tolkien’s own writing, with particular attention to explicitly Christian criticism. The course satisfies the core requirement in literature and can serve as an elective for the Literature major.

English 332: The Novel

Prof. Dean Ward
This course will study British novels, from their 18th-century origins through contemporary works.

English 333: Poetry

Prof. John Timmerman
The course begins with a study of poetic forms emerging from major poets in the western tradition. It then moves to a survey of modern poetry and special topics such as modernism and African-American poetry. One of our central issues in this survey is the matter of what constitutes a good poem.