Cheri Larsen Hoeckley

Cheri Larsen Hoeckley

Professor of English and Department Chair
Gender Studies Program Coordinator

Phone: (805) 565-7084
Office Location: Reynolds Hall 105

Office Hours
Spring 2018
M 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Tu 3:00 - 5:00 PM
and by appointment

Victorian Literature, Women Writers, Gender, and The Novel

Cheri Larsen Hoeckley arrived at Westmont in 1997, and she found a home here, teaching, enjoying great company, and continuing to learn with this community of believers. She has been known to organize marathon readings of novels in Reynolds Hall because the time to read novels can slip away too easily. Because she is convinced that traveling with students offers teachable moments beyond what we find in the classroom, she has led Westmont’s Europe Semester three times and also has recently been part of creating and leading the Westmont in Northern Europe Program. She and her husband Dr. Chris Hoeckley have also led England Semester, and look forward to doing so again soon.



  • Ph.D., UC Berkeley, 1997.
  • M.A., UT, Austin, 1986.
  • B.A., UC Riverside, 1984

Selected Publications

  • “The Dynamics of Forgiveness and Poetics in Adelaide Procter’s ‘Homeless,’” Literature Compass 11.2 (2014): 94-106.
  • “Anna Jameson” in Great Shakespeareans: Jameson, Cowden Clark, Kemble and Cushman. Ed. Gail Marshall. For the Great Shakespearean Series, General Editors, Peter Holland and Adrian Poole. London: Continuum Publishing, 2010.
  • “Victorian Poetics, Catholicism and Philanthropy in Adelaide Procter’s Chaplet of Verses.” in Sublimer Aspects: Interfaces Between Literature, Aesthetics and Theology, Natasha Duquette, Ed. Under review with Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007.
  • “’Must her own words do all?’ Domesticity, Catholicism and Activism in Adelaide Anne Procter’s Poems.” in The Catholic Church and Unruly Women Writers, Leigh Eicke, Jeana DelRosso, Ana Kothe, Eds. Palgrave Press, 2007.
  • Editor and author of Introduction for Anna Jameson’s Shakespeare’s Heroines or Characteristics of Women, Moral, Poetical and Historical. Broadview Press: 2005.
  • “Unspeakable Ownership: Copyright and Coverture in Aurora Leigh.” Victorian Poetry, (36) Fall 1998: 135-161. Selected for reprinting in Poetry Criticism vol. 62, Gale Publishing Group, 2005.


  • Provost's Professional Development Grant for Gender Studies Research Group, 2014-15.
  • Participant in The National Humanities Center Seminar in Literary Studies on Sentimental Education, 2004
  • Irvine Foundation Grant Recipient for Diversity in Teaching 2002, 2004
  • Westmont College Humanities Division Teacher of the Year, 2001
  • Mellon Fellowship Recipient, 1994-1995
  • Member Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society

Research Interests

Generally, Cheri’s research is in Victorian studies and gender studies, with an interest in women and Christianity. Currently, she is working on several short projects that bring these interests together around intersections of faith, gender, and sexuality—historical under-appreciation of the bachelor Rev. Farebrother in George Eliot’s Middlemarch and the novel’s models for heroism; analysis of the connections between prayer and sex in Eliot’s early novel Adam Bede; and St John Rivers in Jane Eyre as a critique of Victorian hyper-masculinity.  She also finds herself repeatedly drawn to the cultural role of literary adaptations.


Victorian Literature in which we hit the highlights of Victorian texts and the culture from which they come and on which they comment. We divide most of our time between novels and poetry, but we also discuss nineteenth-century theatre and the Victorian genre of the “long essay.” We read one novel serially, following the month-by-month communal reading experience of Victorian novel readers. Individual class members also pursue independent research projects.

The British Novel. This course serves as an introduction to the British novel from its origins through the Victorian period-the period when the novel took a central place in British literature. Through the semester, as we discuss specific novels, we consider several core questions about the novel and its relationship to British literary tradition: What literary genres have contributed to the formation of the novel?; What distinguishes the novel from other genres, or from other cultural forms?; What characteristics make, or have made, a novel British?; What is the connection between national identity and literature?; How is the novel a genre of the middle class? Is it?; What are the connections between gender and genre?

Women Writers in which we scrutinize the possibilities of connections between femininity and genre, style and theme, as well as variations in those connections through history. We begin with a reading of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and move on to examine the tradition of British women’s writing that Woolf establishes there, and that feminist criticism followed for many years. We spend considerable time reading and discussing texts that Woolf leaves out of her fictional lectures. Individual class members also pursue independent research projects. This course also fulfills a requirement in the Gender Studies Minor.

Survey of British Literature 1790-present which is a whirlwind tour through over 200 years of literary history. We begin with William Blake and finish with Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott and Anita Desai. Because of the pace of reading, in this course I focus on brief introductions to traditional readings of major texts, with some consideration of how other texts in each period might influence those readings.

Writers in Conversation. In sections subtitled “Literature and Gender” we study several poems and novels that represent gender across different times and spaces. In the similarities and the differences in those representations of gender, as well as in consideration of theories of gender, we work together to explore biblical understandings of gender, as scripture also makes clear that we live out the selves God created in particular cultural contexts. In this introduction to the major, we also hope to delight in language, to marvel at crafted form, to discover ideas to share with friends over coffee, and to encounter stories that make us laugh, cry and sometimes cringe.

Victorian Novel Seminar. The course aims to equip you to identify various traits of a Victorian novel, and to familiarize you with specific Victorian authors (and hopefully to entice you to read other Victorian novels). During the Victorian period, the novel evolved from a popular genre to one with a central place in British literature. In our age, the Victorian period is often looked to as a highpoint of realist fiction. Through the semester, as we read and discuss the pleasures of these five specific novels, we also consider what this position of privilege in the literary canon might mean for us as readers today, and what it might have meant for the nineteenth-century English reader who did not have our perspective on literary history.

International Novels. The International Novels section of English 44 encourages students to expand their understanding of other cultures by introducing them to contemporary novels from other countries, focusing on the literature of developing nations. Since the novel developed as a “Western” genre, and we read novels from “Non-Western” cultures, the course material inherently invites comparative culture studies. Novels are the primary content of this course, and lectures and discussions generally focus on literature. The course also relies on outside speakers, films, news items and the other arts to explore the cultural contexts of the novels we are reading.

Introduction to Literature in which we look at novels, drama, poetry and short stories to explore a variety of questions: “How can I make sense of this poem?”; “What do I like about this novel?”; “What does this text have to say to me as a Christian?”; “What do I learn from the way the authors expresses that thought?”; “Why read literature?”

Composition in which I take advantage of the unique opportunity a writing course gives students to reflect on the role of the Christian college student and on the idea of intellectual stewardship. Class discussion and essays focus on writing for an audience and writing with a purpose and on using those skills in the college research process.

The world of books is still the world, I write,
And both worlds have God’s providence, thank God,
To keep and hearten: with some struggle, indeed,
Among the breakers, some hard swimming through
The deeps–I lost breath in my soul sometimes
And cried, ‘God save me if there’s any God,’
But, even so, God saved me; and, being dashed
From error on to error, every turn
Still brought me nearer to the central truth

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh,
Book One, 792-800

Recommended Reading List:

  • Chinua Achebe. Things Fall Apart.
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The Thing Around Your Neck.
  • Charlotte Brontë. Jane Eyre, followed by a reading of Jean Rhys. The Wide Sargasso Sea.
  • George Eliot. Middlemarch.
  • Julian of Norwich. Revelations of Divine Love.
  • Andrea Levy. Small Island.
  • Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry.
  • Henry Nouwen. ¡Gracias!
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson. In Memoriam, A. H. H.
  • Lynne Truss. Tennyson’s Gift.
  • Arundhati Roy. The God of Small Things.