ENGL W10 Finding God in the Movies: The Very Best Religious Films. This course will focus on the very best religious films ever made, a list that will include works as diverse as The Shawshank Redemption to Babette’s Feast. Although Hollywood and film generally are usually seen as bastions of gleeful secularism, these films comprise an extraordinary body of film--some of filmdom’s greatest, in fact--that is religiously acute and moving. The course will look at the sorts of religious statements these films make and how they go about making them, concentrating on the interrelation between means and “message.” The course will begin by asking the question of what makes a film religious, and then move on to consider the drama of religious experience in the journey from darkness to light, from despair to hope, and from tragedy to comedy. We will also reflect on the nature of audience response and the legitimacy of oft-drawn distinctions between religious film and Christian film. As much as possible the course will follow a seminar format. Recent viewing of all films in the course is a requirement. Class sessions view films and discuss, including some time for professor lecture on filmmakers and meanings, though this is kept to minimum. Students will be responsible for viewing the films and reading analysis of written critical texts. Students will keep a daily log of reactions to films, write three analytic papers, and take a final exam on the substance of the course. The course is rather intensive, examining a film just about every day of the term. It should also be noted that a number of the films in the course are R-rated and often dark in their estimate of human life. The viewing list will include such films as Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Blue, Malick’s The Tree of Life and The Thin Red Line, and Robbins’ Dead Man Walking. The course is designed to immerse students in the work of the great masters of religious cinema in order to develop their own awareness of the religious capacities of cinema but also their exploration of the presence and character of the divine. R. Anker. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
ENGL W40 New England Saints. In the mid-nineteenth century, a group of New England writers created a body of literature dealing with significant religious, philosophical, and artistic questions that challenged conventional understandings of the world. This course deals with these authors and their questions, grappling with the way their writing and their lives challenge contemporary Christians. It studies Hawthorne and his reaction to the Puritan tradition, the transcendentalists and their uneasy union of philosophy and literature and spirit and practical life, and the Romantics and their departure from Emerson. After reading Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson, Alcott, Longfellow, Whittier, Hawthorne, and Bradford, the group travels to a living history experience in Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, to enter the period, and then to Concord, for on-site discovery, examination, and discussion with local academics and historians. The class remains in New England for 2 ½ weeks, visiting Salem, Cape Cod and Plymouth, Lowell, Boston, Amherst, and Springfield. The objective in each case is to unite the students’ reading, their experience on site, and their own wrestling with what it means to be a Christian writer, artist, and thinker. This course may fulfill an English Department elective in the writing major, the literature major, the secondary and elementary education majors and the language arts major. Course dates: January 8-28. Fee: $2325. D. Hettinga, N. Hull, G. Schmidt. Off campus.
ENGL W41 Faith & Fiction. Literary critic Lionel Trilling argues that the fundamental subject of American literature is salvation. This course looks at a selection of works by contemporary writers with a particular focus on the ways in which faith informs literature, and asks the question: how does literature, in the words of Henry Zylstra, give us “more to be Christian with”? To answer this question, we will engage novels, short fiction, poetry, and films that center on faith questions. The class will consider, as well, the force of faith in literature in terms of critical essays, especially those written by many of the writers who have visited Calvin College as part of the Festival of Faith and Writing since 1990. This course may fulfill an elective in the Literature and Writing majors. J. Holberg, J. Zwart. 8:30 a.m. to noon.
ENGL W42 Human Creativity & the Literary Arts. This course is designed for, but not limited to, writers interested in exploring the creative process as well as looking for inspiration for their art. Throughout the course, students investigate answers to a variety of questions: What is the source of human creativity and how do writers tap into it? What can be learned from pioneers in and outside the literary arts—their methods, their studios, their habits of thought? What does creativity have to do with godliness? The primary text for the course is Peter Turchi’s Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer, but students watch and discuss documentaries of various artists reflecting on their art—architects such as Frank Gehry, musicians such as Les Paul, photographers such as Annie Liebovitz, and others. The course approaches creativity in a multi-sensory, multimedia way. Class periods not only provide opportunities for the mind to roam in conversation but also hands-on exercises, mini-field trips, and invitations to play. Throughout the course, students reflect, dabble, scheme, and dream in a sketchbook—blank pages for their observations, questions, and creative responses, including the rough beginnings of stories, poems, or compositions. The ultimate goal, then, is that the course will serve as a hothouse for student creativity. The course may count as an elective in the Writing minor. With consultation of the student’s faculty advisor, the student may choose to substitute this interim for a class that fulfills a line in the Writing Major. L. Klatt. 8:30 a.m. to noon.
ENGL W43 Writing Books for Children . In this workshop students write short books for children in a number of genres—poetry; realistic, fantastic, or historical fiction; and nonfiction. Students read many examples of all of these genres as well as a number of essays about writing by established writers for children. Students are expected to write extensively, to critique each other's work, and to make at least one presentation. Students should come with a willingness to take risks, to accept criticism, and to work hard. This course may fulfill an elective in the Writing major and minor. D. Hettinga. 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
ENGL 374 English Grammar. A study of traditional grammar, focusing on its history, its system, its applications, its competitors, and its place in the middle-school and high-school classroom; special emphasis will be given to the system and terminology of this grammar. J. Vanden Bosch, E. Vander Lei. 8:30 am to noon.
IDIS 150 14 DCM: Writing, Faith & the Festival. D. Rienstra. 8:30 a.m. to noon.