“There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second,
is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

C.S. Lewis, “Christianity and Culture”

Our purpose as an English department is to foster our students’ knowledge of and pleasure in literature broadly understood, to cultivate their writing abilities, and to help them discern the philosophical and religious assumptions that shape all uses of language. In so doing, we hope to encourage students to turn the gift of language to uses that honour the Lord who has given it to us. We consider our greatest success to be measured by students who have learned how to integrate a love of language and literature into their Christian understanding, and how their reading and writing can make a difference in the world.

We aim to teach students to participate in reading and writing through the eyes of Christian faith. We believe that each person is made in the image of God, and thus shares in God’s creativity; each person is fallen, and thus can neither read nor write in the way that God originally intended. Nevertheless, language and literature are good gifts of God. His “common grace” is present even in material that is confessedly non-Christian. Both reading and writing from a Christian perspective involve recognizing God’s saving work in the world and discovering how one can join in.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates of our programs will:

  • Generate a close reading of any literary work and its elements, while integrating attention to cultural and historical contexts.
  • Show knowledge of British and North American literary traditions, while also demonstrating awareness of and sensitivity to traditions distinguished by race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, ideology, religion, ecology, and region.
  • Describe and practice major forms of literary criticism, including those within the long Christian tradition of interpretation.
  • Produce creative, expository, and/or journalistic writing in a wide range of genres and modes, writing at a high standard with respect to clarity and vitality.
  • Articulate and practice a Christian understanding of the reader’s and writer’s vocations in contemporary society—particularly in terms of wisdom, truthfulness, integrity, authenticity, love, and service.

English Department Programs

Additional Information

English Department Highlights

The English Program offers students and others who love literature and writing a number of enriching opportunities:

  • Redeemer Reads: Each year, the English Department hosts a series of readings by published writers. For information on upcoming readings, visit Redeemer’s Events Calendar. For a number of these readings, we have partnered with the Hamilton Poetry Centre, which also offers workshops to our students.
  • The English Learning Community Facebook page offers current students, alumni, and faculty a space to share news, events, and ideas related to literature and writing.Future students and community members who love literature and writing are welcome!
  • Christianity and Literature Study Group: A number of faculty members are active in the Christianity and Literature Study Group (CLSG), an allied organization of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE).
  • The Word Guild: Faculty and students have been involved with the Word Guild, a community of Christian writers, editors, publishers, and other interested individuals.
  • The Poetry and Ecology Project: Dr. Deborah Bowen’s Poetry and Ecology project, funded by SSHRC and Zylstra grants involves several senior students in practical research. If you are interested in the relationship between literature and the environment, check out resources available at the Poetry and Ecology project page.

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English Department Faculty

Prof. Emeritus Hugh Cook

Professor Emeritus of English

M.F.A. (1987), Creative Writing, The Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa. Thesis: Cracked;... Read More

Dr. Karen Dieleman

Dean of Humanities



Professor of English

Ph.D. (2006), English, McMaster University. Dissertation: Women, Worship, and Writing: The... Read More
Phone:   Ext: 2436
After ten years of teaching at a sister institution in the great city of Chicago, Dieleman returned to Ancaster to serve as Dean of Humanities and a professor of English at Redeemer. Her scholarship... Read More

Dr. Ben Faber

Associate Professor of English

D.Phil. (1992), University of Oxford; Dissertation: The Poetics of Subversion and Conservatism:... Read More
Phone: 905-648-2139   Ext: 4400
Office: 239B
Dr. Ben Faber has published essays on William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and Henry Alline’s sermons and hymns. He has recently presented conference... Read More

Dr. Jonathan Juilfs

Associate Professor of English

Ph.D. (2011), Medieval Studies, The Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame;... Read More
Phone: 905-648-2139   Ext: 4272
Office: 208B
As a medieval literature specialist, Juilfs focuses on religious writings (poetry, visionary and mystical literature) in English, Latin, and Old French covering the years 1100-1485. His doctoral... Read More

Prof. Doug Sikkema

Sessional Assistant Professor of English

Dr. John Van Rys

Professor of English

Ph.D. (1991), English, Dalhousie University; Dissertation: Loopholes and Catacombs: Elements of... Read More
Phone: 905-648-2139   Ext: 4212
Office: 239A
With an MA from Western University and a PhD from Dalhousie University, Van Rys works in two scholarly areas: Modern Canadian Literature and writing pedagogy. In the past decade, he has presented... Read More


Dr. Deborah C. Bowen

Professor Emerita of English

Ph.D. (1990), English, University of Ottawa; Dissertation: Mimesis, Magic, Manipulation: A Study... Read More
Phone: 905-648-2131  
Office: 219M
Bowen’s monograph Stories of the Middle Space: Reading the Ethics of Postmodern Realisms (McGill-Queen’s U P, 2010) and her edited collection of essays The Strategic Smorgasbord of... Read More


Prof. Bill Fledderus

Adjunct Lecturer in English

M.A. (1995), English/Creative Writing, University of Alberta; Thesis title: The Artificial... Read More