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Dr. Bob De Smith
Professor of English
Phone: (712) 722-6296
I have been teaching Early British Literature at Dordt University for over 30 years. I have a special interest in how the Protestant Reformation is reflected in, and affected by, the literature of the 16th and 17th centuries in England. I am also interested in how Christians both use literature to understand the world and their faith to understand literature. I also enjoy looking for a religious dimension in all kinds of literature and film.
As a teacher, I strive to bring fresh insights and lively approaches to my classes. Thus in my Shakespeare class, I trade in the usual papers and tests for a set of porfolio assignments: students mark up downloaded scans of original texts, compile or compose musical selections for plays, draw portraits , read contemporary reviews, and even develop a Sim City trailer for Hamlet.
As a scholar, I have participated in a National Endowment for the Arts sponsored summer seminar, Tudor Books and Readers, which took me to Antwerp, London, and Oxford. Ask me sometime about how early books are produced, how their form affects their meaning, and why the development of the English Bible is so interesting. I also regularly present papers at the Northern Plains Conference on Early British Literature (NPCEBL) where I serve in the advisory group. I hosted the the conference at Dordt in April 2021--the third time I have done so.
What I appreciate most about teaching in a wonderful department is our shared vision that the Reformed faith calls us to read literature with insight and compassion and to commit ourselves to writing that that is precise and gracious.
Courses I regularly teach:
Approaches to Literary Studies (English 210)
Shakespeare (English 312)
Early British Literature (English 311)
History of the English Language (English 335)
Literary Criticism (English 333)
College Composition (Core 120)
Responding to Literature (Core 180)
Introduction to the Arts (Core 160)
Recent Publications and Papers:
"Elizabeth's Coronation Procession: In Which We Imagine Young Spenser Imagining"
--paper presented at the 22nd NPCEBL
"Faith in Fiction? Solzhenitsyn's One Day as a Practical Defense of Fiction." Pro Rege 38.3 (March 2010): 1-11.
"Finding the Order and Sequence in Donne's Holy Sonnets"
--paper presented at the 20th NPCEBL and published in their proceedings for 2010.