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Academics & the Arts

Language, History & Culture

English, History, Theology, Spanish

Priding itself on interdisciplinary work, the Humanities division stretches the boundaries of learning by offering many learning communities, internship options, and hands-on activities that lead students to meaningful employment and educational opportunities after graduation.  There are several majors offered, and all incorporate a fundamental liberal arts education with specialized areas of interest, including the Liberal Arts and Individualized majors.


Sarah Miller Boelts, professor of Spanish 
I'm from Iowa but lived in Minnesota for eight years. I teach Spanish I and II, and courses in Latino culture. My special interest is in Cuban culture and literature. I believe learning a second language is essential. In my classes, students and I break down harmful stereotypes. I encourage them to study abroad and practice the language as much as they can outside the classroom. My husband, Tim, and I have three cats and enjoy traveling, watching baseball and reading.


Dr. Paul Brooke, professor of English
I graduated from the University of Nebraska with my Ph.D. and I teach many different courses: Advanced Creative Writing, Introduction to Creative Writing, Literary Theory, Contemporary American Literature, and Major Authors. I am an avid photographer, poet, birder, fly fisherman, and weightlifter.  Currently I hold the World Record for deadlifting 639.33 lbs. at the 220 lb. weight class (Natural Athlete Strength Association). I love teaching; it is what drew me into the profession from biology. My poetry is published all over the world: Australia, England, Germany, New Zealand, among other places.  Several of my books are published, including Light and Matter: Photographs and Poems of Iowa, and Meditations on Egrets: Photographs and Poems of Sanibel. Faculty Website


Dr. Josh Call, associate professor of English
Welcome! You’ll likely find me in courses such as Composition, Literacy, and Service Learning. I’m a firm believer that writing as a process is as much about learning to discover our questions and ideas as it is about demonstrating them through texts. To that end, I encourage writing that represents students’ interests and ideas rather than prescribing topics for them. I also find that encouraging writing in multiple forms and genres and for multiple audiences challenges not only our assumptions about what writing can be, but who we are as writers. Outside of the classroom I’m an eccentric pop-culture fiend, dividing my time between books, movies, music, and video games (all of which are also scholarly interests for me). Outside of work, I spend my time with my wife and daughter searching for exciting and fun places to eat, shop, and experience new things in the Des Moines area.


Dr. Brittany Cottrill, associate professor of English, Coordinator of Core Seminar 1
Hello! I have been at Grand View since 2010 and I teach a variety of writing classes, including First-Year Composition, New Media, and Advanced Composition. I also teach the first-year seminar. My goal is to help students realize the role that writing plays in their lives as students, employees, and citizens. When I'm not in the classroom I love to travel, watch zombie movies, and explore new parks with my dog.


Dr. Kevin Gannon, professor of history
I teach courses in early U.S. and Latin American history, as well as historiography. I’m passionate about the study of history and share that passion in my classes. I try particularly to bring diverse voices and uncommon perspectives into the conversation as my students and I “do” history together. I’m deeply engaged with the ways technology can improve teaching, and have done a lot of work in this area; I’ve been invited to speak on teaching history with technology at colleges and universities around the country. My scholarly work covers a number of areas, including popular movements, radical politics, and the problem of violence in history. I’ve written a book on riots and rebellion in early America, and my current project is a “continental history” of the Civil War era. In my spare time, I delight in hanging out with my wife, children, and our menagerie of dogs and cats. I avidly follow the Cleveland Indians and New England Patriots. I also enjoy heavy metal and punk rock, and of course love to read history, philosophy, and anything else that looks interesting. In many ways, I am more of a student now than I was in college! One of the best things about being here at Grand View is the opportunity to work with so many interesting and dedicated students and faculty—it’s truly a gift.  Faculty Website


Dr. Amy Getty, professor of English
Hello! I've been a professor at Grand View since 2002. I teach a variety of classes, including American Literature, First Year Composition, Children's Literature, Shakespeare, Film as Literature, and Women's Literature. Variety is the spice of life, and I think a diverse range of interests keeps everyone healthy. I also believe in the power of education to transform lives. My husband and I live in Des Moines with our two cats, Dean Moriarty and Morticia DeVille. I spend my free time in the summer reading good books and watching movies. I look forward to seeing you in class!  Faculty Website


Dr. Avilah Getzler, professor of English, department chair
I am a California transplant trying to get used to the cold Iowa winters. Here at Grand View I teach Survey of British Literature, Introduction to Literature, Global Literature, Composition, and seminars on the novel. I love long juicy novels- especially those from Victorian England. When my head isn't buried in a book, I like to travel, backpack, and scuba dive.

Rev. Dr. Ken Jones, professor of philosophy and theology
When I head home at the end of the day, I can say it was a good day if I’ve encountered curious students and experienced animated discussion in my classes. It’s even better if I’ve been able to contribute to either one. I relish the freedom and support Grand View gives me to be creative in helping students dig in, grab hold, and learn. So don’t be surprised if zombie movies, roller coasters or cheesy TV crop up in my classes.


Dr. Therese Judge, professor of English
Hi! My area of specialization is in the writing done by people at work—emails, memos, reports, correspondence, etc. I teach Writing for Business, Technical Writing, Writing for English Studies, and Linguistics. I geek over language including how we learn language and how we adapt language to the circumstances. Personally, I enjoy campfires, spoiling my dog, Tally, and watching too many hours of T.V.


Dr. John Lyden, liberal arts core director & professor liberal arts, department chair
I oversee the Liberal Arts Core, which includes all the courses students take to broaden them beyond their majors, and give them a perspective on diverse ways of understanding themselves and the world. I also teach sections of each of the Core Seminars. I believe that a liberal arts education will not only prepare you to be employed, but will give you the skills to function in society as a well-rounded critical thinker who can examine anything with curiosity, an open mind, and an open heart.  My academic background is in philosophy and religion, and I have a tremendous interest in movies; I authored the book Film as Religion: Myths, Morals, and Rituals (NYU Press, 2003) and edited the Routledge Companion to Religion and Film (Routledge, 2009). I also edit the online Journal of Religion and Film. I enjoy challenging students to think "outside the box," so my classes  include a lot of reflection. I hope students leave my classes able to imagine a world in which they would like to live, as well as able to contribute to changes to make it that way.


Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes, professor of philosophy and theology, department chair
Greetings! I have taught at Grand View since 1995. I teach courses in religion and philosophy. I have lectured throughout the world, including India, Germany, Finland, Brazil, and throughout the United States. I have authored, translated, or edited nine books and have written numerous journal articles and reviews. I seek to help students grow in critical thinking and writing skills which they can apply to their majors and lives. I enjoy all kinds of music and the outdoors.  Faculty Website


Dr. Bobbi Olson, assistant professor of English, Director of the GV Writing Center
Hello! I teach composition courses at Grand View, as well as courses specifically for multilingual students. I am also director of the Writing Center. As a teacher, I aim to help students experience agency in their lives as students and citizens; in other words, rather than be shaped solely by others’ expectations, I work with students to help them actively make decisions according to how they might best represent themselves. When I'm not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband and son, watching baseball, and exploring the great outdoors with my ever-loyal sidekick, Willie the Lab.


Dr. Matthew Plowman, professor of history, department chair
University is about discovering your world, your place in the world, and yourself. My own quest has taken me into teaching specialties that include World War I, Modern Britain, British Empire, Modern Africa, Roman Republic and Empire, Viking Europe, and European intellectual and cultural history. I find issues, events, and people surrounding identity, nationalism, imperialism, and ethnic conflict to be the most interesting. As a student of history, I am obsessed in sort of an X-Files manner with discovering truths about British intelligence and the Indo-German-Irish conspiracies of World War I. I am a huge fan of Kierkegaard, Steinbeck, the SF Giants, and Hawaiian shirts.


Steve Snyder, professor of humanities
I’ve been at GV since 1991, teaching in humanities, liberal arts and interdisciplinary studies.  I teach core seminars programs and in the Logos honors core program.  My areas of interest and study are wide and varied, but I really enjoy teaching ancient literature and engaging students in big questions and big ideas. 
Faculty Website


Dr. Katharina Tumpek-Kjellmark, professor of history
Welcome! I know a lot of you may wonder how the study of history can get you a good job. My job every semester is to ignite some excitement in my students for studying the past; it’s a lot more than just memorizing dates and names! I try to show how people like you and I make history and how studying what our ancestors did can help us develop the skills and integrity we will need in life’s many challenges and adventures. I teach World history, Western Civilization and women’s history. I take students to Europe on a study abroad tour and I work with service learning trips in our nation. I love to travel, hike with my husband and dog, watch old movies and, of course, read. 


Coralie Turner, associate professor of Spanish, department chair
Language proficiency requires a balance of academic work and real life application. Academic work alone is insufficient to gain a true grasp of a language. I encourage students to involve themselves in opportunities that enhance communication, cultural immersion and community service. Everyone can learn a second language, though the process may vary from person to person. My favorite hobby is spending time with people and my favorite people are my husband, Tom, and our sons, Ryan and Reid, and my daughter-in-law, Stephanie, and daughter, Brittany. I host Bible study group in my home, mentor young moms and work on various Spanish-related projects in the community.


Professional Writing Certificate

The Certificate in Professional Writing provides you with experience practicing and applying the writing process in professional contexts. You'll write for a variety of audiences and purposes, as well as develop skills of organization, development, and problem solving or critical thinking. The certificate will strengthen writing skills that are valued in the workplace, and with a growing demand for professionals highly skilled in communications, the additional experience may help set you apart in a competitive market.  See the course list here.

Student Scholarly Publications

Bifrost (pronounced Bee-Frost) is the yearly undergraduate literary journal that is published each spring.  Since 2002, the journal has been publishing the best work of artists, photographers, and writers at Grand View University.  The color magazine boasts 64 pages of art, photos, and writing.  Any current Grand View student is eligible to submit his or her work.  Two entries are accepted per category.  The magazine is funded by the Student Publication Fund.  An English major typically serves as editor each year.

Bifrost 2013

For more information, please contact Dr. Paul Brooke at pbrooke@grandview.edu .

MUNINN, named after the Viking god Odinn's raven who reported the memory of human events and actions, is a journal of the Grand View History Department.  It welcomes article and book review submissions from undergraduate students, alumni, faculty and friends.  For more information, see the inside front cover of the journal itself,

Volume 1, 2012

Awards and Accomplishments


Dr. Paul Brooke, professor of English and Chair of the Department, had his book published: Wound Down Days. Brooke co-authored the book with Don Libey, a poet from California; all the photographs in the book were shot by Brooke.

Rev. Dr. Mark Mattes, professor of philosophy and religion, presented and defended a keynote lecture “Luther’s Use of Philosophy” at the International Luther Congress at the University of Helsinki in Finland.  The International Luther Congress is one of the most prestigious gatherings of scholars dedicated to Reformation Studies and  held every five years.

Dr. John Lyden, Liberal Arts Core Director, attended the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Baltimore, Maryland, from Nov. 23-26, 2013.  There he introduced and presided over a session entitled, "Hearing Images: Film Music, Meaning-Making, and Lived Religion," which included academic presentations on film music and religion as well as live musical performances accompanying the showing of film clips. As part of the latter, Dr. Lyden also performed on clarinet as part of an ensemble that played music from the motion picture UP. He also introduced and led a discussion on the Japanese film Departures regarding its use of music and its depiction of religious ideas.

The Passport to the Humanities

What better way to acquaint yourself with what's going on around campus ... and maybe gain a bit of culture and knowlege in the process than the Passport to the Humanities. 

You can receive credit or extra credit in Humanities classes for attending non-sport related events. You'll receive passports in the classes that are offering events. If you need additional passports or for questions, please contact Linda MacKinnon at lmackinnon@grandview.edu or 263-2937.