Course Descriptions

Link: Current Undergraduate Courses                                                       Link: Current Undergraduate Catalog

Interested in English 318R with Brandon Sanderson? Learn more here. 

 Link: English 318R Application Download

Winter 2020


English 295-1: Writing Literary Criticism: Austen’s Persuasion (Meridith Reed)

In this section of English 295, we will read, analyze, and write about Jane Austen’s Persuasion. With Persuasion as our shared text, we will learn and practice the art of writing literary criticism through intensive writing exercises, workshops, and revision. Expect to write frequently, both formally and informally. By the end of the semester, you will write an 8-10 page paper advancing an original argument about Austen’s Persuasion.

English 318-1: Writing Fiction: Short Story (Steve Tuttle) 

This class requires an add code, with priority registration going to Creative Writing Minors.

English 318-2: Writing Fiction (Brandon Sanderson)

ENGL 318R section 002 will focus on writing science fiction. Admittance to class by application only. Go to for application. Register for ENGL 321 section 002 (open enrollment) for the lecture-only portion of Sanderson’s course. 

English 318-3: Writing Fiction: the Novel (Spencer Hyde)

This class requires an add code, with priority registration going to Creative Writing Minors.

English 326-1: Applied English: Podcast Lab (Gideon Burton)

In this applied course in digital communication, students first learn about podcasting within digital culture, then work collaboratively to develop, produce, and promote podcasts for BYU’s Undergrad Podcast Lab. Students learn and follow Design Thinking principles and develop skills in media production, project management, and social media.

English 328-1: Studies in Composing: Writing Collaboratively (Meridith Reed)

We often think of writers as brooding, solitary people who wander the wilderness before composing texts of striking originality and genius. In reality, writers are social beings whose work is shaped by a web of relationships, texts, and influences. In this section of English 328, we will examine the history, theories, and practices of writing collaboratively, including all the ways that writing is shaped through collaboration: writing in teams at work and in school, remixing and rewriting the work of others, co-authoring, navigating issues of plagiarism and copyright, composing corporate and organizational texts, crowdsourcing writing (as in wikis), and so on. We will look at collaborative composing in a variety of contexts, from literature to the sciences to digital meme-making. You will gain a theoretical understanding of how collaboration happens as well as practical, professional skills in creating texts with others.

English 345-1: Literature and Film: Science Fiction Film Adaptation in the 1950s (Dennis Perry)

This course is a film and literature course wherein students read the novels that the films we discuss have adapted, usually including War of the Worlds, Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and others. We discuss how the adaptation theories behind how the films transform the texts they are based on. Students also give oral reports on films we don’t have time see.

English 365-1: American Literature 1960-Present: Post-World War II (Kristin Matthews)

This study of American literature focuses upon the politics, aesthetics, and ethics of post-World War II texts. Postwar texts increasingly interrogated the ways in which language could be used to structure, order, and control institutions, individuals, and interpretation, challenging said structures in efforts to dismantle oppressive institutions, reinvest individuals with authority, and reinvigorate epistemologies with possibility. Over the semester we will read a wide range of texts—drama, poetry, fiction, metafiction, new journalism, theory, and historical documents—not only to discover what the texts say but also how they are saying it. We will examine the aesthetics of “postmodern” discourse, and in so doing, we will derive a provisional ethics of textual practice.

English 366-1: Studies in Poetry: Schools and Developments in American Poetry (Trent Hickman)

In this section of the course, we’ll focus on schools and developments in American poetry from the mid-twentieth century to the present.  The class is equally a course in the literary history of poetry in this period as well as a practicum in how to read, analyze, and write persuasive critical arguments about poetry.  (It is not a poetry writing class; for that course, you’ll want to enroll in English 319R.)

English 371-1: British Literature to 1500: The Medieval Period: Medieval Alterity (Miranda Wilcox)

To combat the toxic fantasy that the Middle Ages was mono-cultural, mono-racial, and mono-religious, this class will delve into the contours of medieval alterity or otherness. We will examine how medieval British authors imagined boundaries of difference in their narratives and how we employ the Middle Ages as a mirror of difference for the present. Translations will be provided for all medieval texts. We will start our narrative adventures with Adam Gidwitz’s The Inquisitor’s Tale. Then we will study well-known medieval texts, including Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales, and less well-known texts, including Pearl and Sir Isumbras.

English 375-1: British Literature 1832-1900: The Victorian Period: Short Fiction (Leslee Thorne-Murphy)

This course will explore the vibrant, though often neglected, field of nineteenth-century short stories and novellas.  We’ll read many of the classics—Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective fiction, Rudyard Kipling’s tales of India, Charles Dickens’ spooky Christmas stories.  And then we’ll go beyond the typical anthology to find a number of literary gems that have remained in the shadows for the past century and a half.

English 382-2: Shakespeare: Shakespeare and the Masque (Sharon Harris)

While Shakespeare’s plays were performed on the London public and private stages, other invitation-only performances were happening at court—court masques. These expensive productions were often over-the-top and performed only once. Shakespeare never wrote a masque that we know of, but he did write masques into his plays. Together we will read several Shakespeare plays, a handful of masques, and at least one adaptation from nearly a hundred years after Shakespeare that is a mash-up of both. Through this lens, we’ll explore London geography, politics, music, dance, social networks, and how the poetics and reception of the masque shaped the English seventeenth century.

English 383-3: Shakespeare: The Plays, the Contexts, the Controversies (Brandie Siegfried)

This section of Shakespeare takes up a variety of topics relating to five of Shakespeare’s plays. We will consider, for example, how economic contingencies shaped the playwright’s productions, how a queen influenced public performance, how a teacher-actor-businessman became an icon of universal genius, and what relevance any of this has for us as readers in the twenty-first century. We will also explore the curiously elastic nature of drama for various modes of performance (stage, page, cinema, etc.). In order to emphasize the importance of this in relation to scholarship on Shakespeare, this class will be performance-oriented.

Shakespeare wrote the plays to be enjoyed, and enjoyment will be our first order of business as serious critics. To that end, you will also watch one film adaptation and read one novelistic adaptation of a play. Special attention will be given to the following five objectives.  You will (1) become familiar with both primary and secondary sources in Shakespeare studies; (2) learn how to engage Shakespeare critics as you develop your own pleasure in, and scholarship on, the plays; (3) gain knowledge of the literary sources for the plays; (4) add to your understanding of the continued influence of the plays historically and in contemporary life; and (5) develop a conference-ready research paper. By the end of the semester, you will be confident (if neophyte) Shakespeare scholars.

English 384-1: Major Authors: Jane Austen (Nick Mason)

This course will study Jane Austen’s six finished novels in the context of her life, her historical moment, and major critical analyses of her works. Along the way, we’ll explore how ongoing screen adaptations, shifting gender codes, and modern cultural anxieties help account for Austen’s 25-year run as the world’s most widely read pre-twentieth-century novelist.

English 390-1: Transnational/Transatlantic Literature (1900-present): Contemporary European Fiction (Nick Mason)

While English majors generally develop a solid understanding of British and American literary history, they often graduate with no clear sense of what is happening in literature today, especially outside the English-speaking world. This cross-listed course for students majoring in English and European Studies attempts to begin filling this gap. We will spend the first month surveying major pre-1945 European writers (e.g., Flaubert, Dostoevsky, Kafka, etc.) and movements (e.g., romanticism, realism, expressionism, etc.) that continue to inform contemporary European art and literature. From there, the rest of the semester will focus on a single genre (fiction) and a single period (post-1970, with particular emphasis on novelists still writing today). We will read several novels, but none will be particularly long and all will be in English.

English 394-1: Applied English: Professional Writing Internships (Jon Balzotti)

This weekly, 3-unit seminar is designed to give majors at BYU an overview of possible career and internship options in professional writing and ways to pursue their professional interests. Each student will be placed in a competitive professional writing internship and will produce a polished writer’s portfolio they can use in applying for future internships and employment. Each month, students will meet and talk with guest professionals working in diverse professional writing-related fields such as web design, journalism, public relations, corporate and media relations, technical writing, medical communications, and non-profits. The visiting professionals talk about their own and related careers, show samples of their work, and answer student questions.

English 394-2: Applied English: Building Living Histories (Mike Taylor)

This course offers students the opportunity to apply their Liberal Arts competencies in a range of professional environments, including library and curatorial work, oral history, transcription, and web design. Students will collaborate with BYU’s Native American Alumni Association, the Special Collections Library, and the Office of Digital Humanities in order to build a physical and online space for gathering, documenting, exhibiting, and sharing the intricate histories of BYU’s former, current, and future Native American students.

English 397-1: World Literatures 1900 to Present: Law and the Humanities (Peter Leman)


English 397-2: World Literatures 1900 to Present: Voices and Legacy of the Shoah [Holocaust]. (Ilona Klein/Italian )  This class is taught in English.


English 397-3/English 395-2: (Gregory Clark)

   395 Studies in Literature:  Arts and Culture of Harlem (counts for English and American Studies majors)

   397 African Literature (1900-present): Arts and Culture of Harlem (counts for African Studies minors)

In the early years of the 20th century, an urgent project of African Americans was to claim a place for themselves the equals of other citizens of the United States. Many gathered in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem where they tried to create a coherent African American culture through the arts – writing and painting and music and dance and that express what African-American experience feels like (aesthetics) in ways that assert an their equal  for themselves in the post-slavery nation. The is called the Harlem Renaissance. Coursework will explore these arts as practiced in Harlem through the 20th century.

English 494-1 and 495-1: The Senior Course: Movies Make Arguments: Rhetorical Genres and Film (Brian Jackson)

How do movies make arguments? In this class we’ll use rhetorical theory (genre, narrative, ideology, and publics) to investigate how movies work as rhetorical texts. As rhetorical critics, we’ll go to a movie together. We’ll look at how movies design narrative and express ideological commitments. We’ll analyze how controversy influences public judgment. For your final project, you’ll pick a movie as your text and build a theoretical framework to investigate it in an article-length academic paper.

English 495-2: The Senior Course: Shakespeare and Film (Brandie Siegfried)

This section will focus on a variety of theatrical, socio-historical, political, and literary issues in relation to several film adaptations of Shakespeare. This includes a historical overview of the evolution of Shakespeare’s plays from stage, to page, to illustration, to painting, and to moving pictures.  The class also requires you to learn special terms in film criticism, introduces you to the stages of movie making, invites you to explore the similarities and differences between stage and screen productions, and encourages you to develop some ability in the craft of film criticism by way of close readings of Shakespeare.  Remember that Shakespeare wrote the plays to be enjoyed, and enjoyment will be our first order of business as serious critics.

English 495-3: The Senior Course: The Great American Cowboy and Cowgirl (Phil Snyder)

This senior seminar will trace the development of the American cowboy from its early roots in the Spanish vaquero tradition to its 21st-century manifestations, notably the rise of the cowgirl in the latter half of the 20th century. We’ll study Dary’s Cowboy Culture and Jordan’s Cowgirls to set our historical framework; Wister’s The Virginian (1903) and McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses (1992) to get a sense of the western novel; Jordan’s Riding the White Horse Home and McGuane’s Some Horses to get an autobiographical angle; and, finally, CDs by contemporary cowboy and cowgirl singer-songwriters Brenn Hill and Trinity Seely to get a musical angle. We’ll propose and develop research projects together and reserve ample time at the end of the semester to complete and revise them. You’ll find something to work on that will become a part of you. And we might even do a field trip or two.

English 495-4: The Senior Course: Edgar Allan Poe on Film (Dennis Perry)

This course explores the many ways Poe has been adapted on film, from D.W. Griffith’s 1914 adaptation of “Tell-Tale Heart” (The Avenging Conscience) to Hitchcock’s 1958 Vertigo. We will study adaptation theory and how to apply it analyzing the films. Writing assignments will include analyses of film stills and sequences, the major paper prospectus, and the conference paper itself. We will also study film terms. Students will do at least one group oral report on a film we screen.

English 495-5: The Senior Course: Literature and the Theory of Spiritual Experience (Matt Wickman)

This class proceeds from two premises. The first is that literature gives expression to intense, high-value experiences–spiritual experiences. The second extends beyond the classroom into the balance of life: literature is a springboard to spiritual experience. We will explore these in tandem–that is, how to recognize what spiritual experience means in literary terms and how literature attunes us to such experiences.

English 520-1: Poetic Meter in the British Imagination (John Talbot)


Spring 2020


English 235: Studies in American Literature (Dennis Perry)


English 295: Writing Literary Criticism: Northern Ireland and the plays of Brian Friel (Peter Leman)


English 495: The Senior Course: William Wordsworth and Literary Geography (Paul Westover)

The imagination has its own geography, and England’s Lake District has become an essential region within it for readers of Anglophone poetry. William Wordsworth, the leading poet of English Romanticism, is the primary reason. Never had a writer so thoroughly grounded his work or his own identity in place. Wordsworth permanently altered the way readers imagined their relationships not only to the Lake District but also to location and to “nature” generally. Thus, it is no surprise that by the late 1800s readers were referring to the Lake District as “Wordsworth Country” and going there on pilgrimage. Wordsworth had helped create one of the first modern literary landscapes. 

We have recently seen a “spatial turn” in the Humanities. One of its manifestations has been the acceleration of interdisciplinary work on literary geography. An exploration of Wordsworth and his legacy, as offered by this senior capstone course, provides an introduction to this realm of study. At the same time, investigating Wordsworth will show us that literary geography is not in itself new; in fact, it was a major preoccupation of nineteenth-century culture. Thus, we have in the writing of Wordsworth and his contemporaries a rich archive on the interactions of places, books, and personal experiences—an archive that we can explore with tools both old and new. Students in this class will do just that and produce their own original scholarship.


Summer 2020


English 495: The Senior Course: Shipwrecked in America: The Asian American Immigrant and American Expectations (Keith Lawrence)

During the mid- and later nineteenth century, white sailors in the Pacific told each other horror stories of peers who had been “shipwrecked in Japan”—or in greater Southeast Asia—and who were never seen again. Asia, and especially Japan before its harbors were forced open by Admiral Perry, was imagined to be the antithesis of America: closed, nondemocratic, threatening. The hapless soldier shipwrecked there was doomed to remain there—and often to die there.

Whites thus imagined that Asian immigrants arriving in the US would be visibly amazed by their new world and its promise—and visibly grateful to have escaped their former home. When Asian immigrants instead demonstrated attitudes and behaviors similar to those that many Americans associated with the hypothetical white sailor trapped in Asia, disaster loomed.

Using texts of early Chinese and Japanese immigrant males to provide historical base points, we will consider writings of later Asian American women (and representative men) to take measure of changing Asian American immigrant—and resident—experiences. Rather than novels, we will read short texts—short stories, poems, a couple of plays, essays—since most class reading/discussion will occur during the first three weeks of the term. The capstone paper will be our focus during the last four weeks.



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