Prof. James Vanden Bosch: king of grammar

English Professor James Vanden Bosch teaches the popular "English Grammar" interim course.

You might need a dictionary to read this profile, but to its subject, Professor James Vanden Bosch, that would be a good thing.

Teacher of literature, grammar and linguistics, Professor Vanden Bosch is a polymath. That is, he's a person with lots of knowledge in many subjects. He could tell you that its etymology is from the Greek polu or "much," and the Greek manthanein, or "learn." And he'd tell you that in passing—you know, off the top of his head. He's just that kind of guy.

Taking a class with Professor Vanden Bosch is like listening to an audiobook. Whether it's a discussion of Dante's Inferno or an exercise identifying verbs in the future perfect tense, Vanden Bosch is a master of the lecture. Those who consider this form of teaching old-fashioned or ineffective have never listened to Vanden Bosch.

His lectures are stories, meandering their way to a destination and never afraid to stop by interesting side streets. They sound rehearsed, like he's been giving them for years, but in reality he's always adapting them to student questions or curiosities.

Stop by his office after grammar class and he'll delight in re-explaining the "absolute phrase." Or maybe he'll offer to lend you a book of essays about Cormac McCarthy, one of his favorite authors.

In his free time, you might find him on the racquetball court, shoveling his always pristine driveway (quite a feat during Michigan winters) or teaching English grammar classes in Russia over the summer.

VERGE: spring 2014

First-Year Experience