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


Spring 2019


English 235: Studies in American Literature (Brooke Downs)

English 235 students will study the history of American dramatic literature from the eighteenth century to the present. Authors include Royall Tyler, Dion Boucicault, James A. Herne, Susan Glaspell, Lillian Hellman, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, Lorraine Hansberry, Arthur Kopit, David Henry Hwang, Anna Deavere Smith, and John Patrick Shanley.

English 295: Writing Literary Criticism (Jamie Horrocks)

Birds are chirping, leaves are green, spring is in the air, so what better time to study the Christmas fiction of Charles Dickens? In this section of 295, we’ll focus on the collaborative Christmas novellas that Dickens became famous for publishing in the years after A Christmas Carol. We’ll use these collections of stories—which have little to do with yuletide and instead showcase pirates, swapped babies, haunted houses, escaped murderers, and shipwrecks, among other things—to think carefully about the processes of reading and writing literary criticism.

English 337R: Advanced Studies in Genre (Robert Hudson)

Students will read four canonical novels from the French tradition – including what is considered the first modern psychological novel (Madame de Lafayette’s Princess of Cleves), a classic Balzac thriller, Flaubert’s true realist masterpiece and an extended excerpt of Proust’s magnum opus – in their contemporary Oxford World Classics translations and in the context of novelistic style, French history/literary movement and with a eye focused, at a meta level, on the translator’s craft.

English 495:  The Senior Course: Eighteenth-Century Women’s Poetry: An Historical Poetics Approach  (Billy Hall)

This course will mostly be poetry written by women: Anne Finch, Mary Montagu, Sara Dixon, Mary Leapor, and others. The analytical framework used to explore the material is historical poetics, which assumes that “works of art are records of a historical process of thing-through-making.”


Summer 2019


English 295: Writing Literary Criticism (Joseph Darowski)

English 295 is a course designed around writing within the field of literary studies, and as such requires a significant amount of writing. This course will focus on a literary analysis of the graphic novel Maus, exploring its cultural impact, the biography of its creator, and different types of interdisciplinary analysis. The course seeks to teach you how to write as English majors (or minors) and as future literary scholars. Through multiple small writing assignments, longer writing assignments that build upon each other, and consistent workshopping and revising, English 295 will teach you how to write literary criticism. This skill will be a necessity as you continue in your college career. Your final assignment, a 12-page research paper, will prepare you for your upper division English classes.

English 495: The Senior Course (Dennis Perry)

This course is on film adaptation of classic 1950s science fiction films, including WAR OF THE WORLDS, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, THE THING, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, and others. The class will involve reading the source texts for these films so that we may study how the filmmakers adapted their sources. In addition, we will study adaptation theory as students prepare to write the most impressive conference paper of their undergraduate career.  


Fall 2019


English 295-1: Writing Literary Criticism: Critiquing Country People: Entering Scholarly Conversations About Flannery O’Connor (Keith Lawrence)

We will read a handful of stories by O’Connor; in addition to analyzing these stories amongst ourselves, we will engage published criticism of them. Students will learn fundamental principles of research and argumentative writing: how to develop a focused, appropriately sophisticated and unique argument; how (and where) to do meaningful research; how to effectively enter a relevant scholarly conversation; how to develop and support a cohesive claim; how to ensure that a scholarly argument ends in a significant “so what?” justification; and how to employ MLA style in documenting and citing sources.

English 295-2: Writing Literary Criticism (Mike Taylor)

In this section of ENGL 295, students will have the unique opportunity to explore the diverse writings of early twentieth-century Yankton Sioux activist, author, and intellectual Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Ša). In addition to analyzing current Bonnin scholarship, students will utilize the Bonnin archives housed in BYU’s Special Collections Library to learn how to navigate both critical secondary and primary sources effectively in ways that offer meaningful interventions in the contemporary field of Indigenous and American literary studies.

English 295-3: Writing Literary Criticism (Jason Kerr)

As with all sections of ENGL 295, this course aims to develop students’ skills as writers of literary criticism, which means using literary texts to develop conceptual claims in conversation with recent scholarship. For this section, we’ll be using Shakespeare’s King Lear to think about such questions as the basis of family ties, the relationships between humans and non-human animals, and the ethics of vulnerability. Students will develop three papers in a workshop environment.

English 295-4: Writing Literary Criticism (Jamin Rowan)

In this section of English 295, students will learn the conventions, rhetoric, and research procedures of literary criticism. English 295 is a writing course rather than a literature class. Everything students will do in this course will help them become better writers. Students in this section of English 295 will be writing about Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried throughout the semester.

English 295-5: Writing Literary Criticism: Seamus Heaney Poetry (Miranda Wilcox)

This class will focus on the poems that Seamus Heaney wrote about bogs and bog bodies during the violent period of The Troubles, the ethno-nationalist guerrilla conflict in Northern Ireland between the 1960s and 1990s. We will immerse ourselves in Heaney’s vivid and startling juxtaposition of the Iron Age with his contemporary Ireland. As we read Heaney’s poems and literary criticism about the poem, we will learn basic conventions that professional literary critics employ, tools that we will then imitate and implement in our own literary criticism. As we write about Heaney’s poems, we will become more attuned to the kinds of questions that literary critics ask, and we will begin to read with greater discernment and formulate more sophisticated conceptual claims about these poetic gems.

English 317-1: Writing Creative NonFiction (Joey Franklin)

In this introduction to creative nonfiction, students will study the basic craft and theory elements of the genre, and will put that study into practice by reading and writing three personal essays in a variety of forms and subgenres.  Students will write ruminative, narrative, and spiritual essays with a particular focus on self-discovery, research, and social consciousness, and students will also receive an introduction to literary magazines and submit their work to real publications. Authors will include Brian Doyle, Elena Passarello, David Sedaris, James Baldwin, and many others.

English 318-1: Writing Fiction: The Short Form (Spencer Hyde)

According to author Ali Smith, the short story is “compact, primed to resonate, disconcert, and then force you, in a way that’s somehow both gentle and extraordinarily tough, to be intelligent. Short stories don’t haunt, they preoccupy.” In this course, we will read heavily in the tradition of the short story, and workshop our own creative, gentle, and extraordinarily tough short stories. We will consider the roots of this tradition in authors like Poe and Hemingway, but focus primarily on works by contemporary practitioners of the short form like Doerr and Proulx. Theoretical works will be studied in order to contextualize our understanding of the craft and the process. Verdict: will spend the semester preoccupied.

English 319-1: Writing Poetry (Kimberly Johnson)

This course is intended to strengthen poetry-writing skills.  Class activities will be split between reading and discussing work by established poets and workshopping student poetry.

English 327: Studies in Rhetoric: Rhetoric and Leadership (Nancy Christiansen)

Educators from ancient Greece through the European Renaissance designed their curricula to prepare their students for leadership, whether in private or public affairs.  Teaching the trivium (grammar, logic, rhetoric) and quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, science, and music) in a set of studies generally called “the rhetorical curriculum,” these pedagogues produced statesmen, courtiers, lawyers, churchmen, philosophers, scientists, academics, teachers, poets, writers, public servants, businessmen, and an educated citizenry.  Their purpose was to create or elevate civilization by empowering each individual with leadership and self-governance capacity.  Democratic ideals undergirded this curriculum.  Because of shifting educational philosophies, curricula in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries lost this connection to both leadership development and to rhetoric.  Liberal arts studies today have typically associated themselves with the contemplative, rather than the active life, and leadership training occurs in the business school isolated from rhetorical training.  Yet, leadership scholarship acknowledges the importance of communication skills for business and political success.  In this class, we will explore the connections between rhetoric and leadership and then seek to redress the educational gaps by first reading from current leadership scholarship, the early rhetorical curriculum, and the lives and public addresses of renowned leaders, and second by developing greater rhetorical and leadership expertise in speaking, argument analysis, and public engagement with educational reform.

ENGL 333: The British Novel (Nick Mason)

One of several designated courses that fulfill the English major’s genre requirement, ENGL 333 offers a chronological survey of the British novelistic tradition from its eighteenth-century beginnings through the present day. In this section, we will first read excerpts from pioneering early novels like Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Richardson’s Pamela, and Fielding’s Tom Jones. From there, we will turn to masterpieces of nineteenth-century realism, including Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Eliot’s Adam Bede. Then we will conclude the semester by studying three novels – Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Gibbon’s Sunset Song, and McEwan’s Atonement – that employ new tools of modernist and postmodernist fiction to explore the internal lives of twentieth-century Britons.

English 360-1: American Literature to 1800: Genre and Form in Early America (Mary Eyring) 

Early American writers are probably most famous for their sermons and captivity narratives, but writers working in America before 1800 wrote in a dazzling array of genres and forms, each suited to advance particular artistic, ethical, spiritual, intellectual, and political goals. In this class, we’ll read early American diary entries, primers, court depositions, sermons (yes, a few of those, too), criminal narratives, hymns, broadside ballads, and novels. We’ll study these forms to trace developing trends in American history and culture.  

English 361-1: American Literature 1800-1865: Literature and Romantic Idealism (Ed Cutler)

This course offers in-depth consideration of some of the most celebrated writers in the American tradition—Poe, Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Whitman, Dickinson—with special attention to the shaping influence of German and English idealist philosophy in the flowering of American literature. As this historical period also corresponds to the early decades of the Restoration of the Gospel, we’ll also consider how romantic philosophy is resonant with doctrinal insights regarding intelligence and spirit, divine nature, eternal progression, continuing and personal revelation, language and the sacred, and the spiritual significance of sexuality and the human body.

English 363-1: American Literature 1914-1960:  (Kristin Matthews)

This semester we will examine the complex aesthetic, generic, and political developments in American literature and culture between 1915-1960. The lens through which we will examine these works is “adolescence.” In his mid-century study of American literature and culture, Leslie Fiedler claims that images of “adolescence haunt our greatest works as an unintended symbolic confession of the inadequacy we sense but cannot remedy.” Fiedler’s essay suggests that the adolescents in America’s literature are symptomatic of the adolescence of American literature and culture. The anxiety that America may never be as “mature” as Europe haunts the cultural, economic, and political narratives of twentieth-century America. At the same time, however, many modern American thinkers invoke the adolescent as a symbol of hope and progress – a type for the “American Dream.” These authors associate the young and independent adolescent with nascent opportunity and potential success. Inadequacy or potentiality? Immaturity or innocence? The seemingly conflicting uses of and for the American adolescent signal the complex processes involved in constructing a national identity and literature. It will be our project this semester to explore how particular texts and literary movements engage with the varying and oftentimes competing discourses of this turbulent period. Over the semester we will read a wide range of texts as we explore the implications of coupling “adolescence” and American nationalism. Our work will often be interdisciplinary, drawing on visual sources, sociology, philosophy, and historical materials.

English 364-1: Literature and Cultures of the American West:  (Mike Taylor)

Too often, we imagine the American West solely as the stage for Cowboy and Indian conflict, forgetting that the American frontier has always been a dynamic space of making and re-making diverse ethnic, gendered, racial, and religious American identities. While this course will be centered on Indigenous literatures of the American West as a way to challenge ongoing myths of Indigenous defeat and deficiency, we will simultaneously analyze the diversity of literary expression along the American frontier, including a range of genres written by African American, Asian American, and Latino/a writers of the American West.

English 373-1: British Literature 1660-1789: The Enlightenment: Gender Politics in the Long Eighteenth Century (Brett McInelly)

This course will examine the ways literary texts represented, and informed, courtship practices, marriage customs, and gendered spheres during what is often referred to as the Long Eighteenth Century, roughly 1660-1800. We will focus much of our attention on two genres, drama and prose fiction (specifically, the novel). Both the theater and the prose fiction of the period demonstrate a preoccupation with the relationships between the sexes, gender norms, and identity formation within domestic and sociopolitical spheres. This course will examine these themes in a number of texts, considering how context influenced the development of drama and the novel on both thematic and formal levels as well as the ways literary representation may have influenced social practice and norms. We will also give attention to contemporary criticism of eighteenth-century literature, investigating the preoccupations and methods of contemporary literary critics

English 374-1: British Literature 1789-1832: The Romantic Period: Romanticism and Memory (Paul Westover)

Admirers of British Romantic literature find themselves in a season of frequent bicentennials: each month, it seems, marks the 200th anniversary of a significant work or event. This semester’s English 374 offers a fitting opportunity to study Romanticism in terms of memory and commemoration. What does Romantic-era literature teach us about the workings of memory? How did the Romantics remember earlier writers, and how did they expect to be remembered? What role did the media play in these phenomena? What genres did writers develop as they sought to theorize memory (and forgetting)? What does Romanticism’s literature of mourning teach us about our own losses and prospects for recovery? Why might remembering Romanticism matter? These are just a few of the questions we’ll approach by way of poems, familiar essays, novels, and sketches, in addition to key critical and theoretical texts and our independent research and writing projects.

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 382-3: Shakespeare (Jason Kerr)

With the exceptions of Richard III and Henry V, Shakespeare’s history plays rarely make modern lists of his greatest hits, and yet they are the plays upon which he built his early success as a playwright. By attending closely to how these plays construct the intersection between political and personal relationships, this class will consider Shakespeare’s work as a writer of history by way of reflecting on what is currently at stake, both personally and politically, in how we write about the past. As the midpoint in our curricular writing trajectory from 295 to 495, this course will also attend to the skills of reading and writing literary criticism, including the core skill of developing a text’s conceptual implications through careful and imaginative close reading.

English 382-4: Shakespeare (Bruce Young)


English 384-1: Major Authors: Edgar Allan Poe (Dennis Perry)

This class will focus on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe as well as their influence on popular culture. Assignments include 1) a close reading of a short story 2) an annotated bibliography, and 4) a longer final paper on a Poe text or adaptation of one.

English 385-1: British Literature 1603-1660: The Late Renaissance: The Early Modern Body (Kimberly Johnson)

This course will examine aesthetic, political, and religious perspectives on the body during the English 17th century.

English 390-1: Transnational/Transatlantic Literature: Pre-1800: Culture and Anarchy Revisited  (Ed Cutler)

This course begins with a reassessment of Matthew Arnold’s ideas about the vitality and necessity of obtaining “culture,” which he famously described in Culture and Anarchy as the active pursuit of “the best which has been thought and said.” Once enormously influential, Arnold’s aspirational Victorian vision—of a citizenry steeped in the classics, appreciative and discerning in matters of judgment, and able rise above ephemeral entertainments and the prevailing political winds to cultivate a world filled with “sweetness and light”—has long since faded in the wake of academic rejection and broader cultural indifference. 390-1 will take Arnold as a thought experiment; we’ll assess his arguments, consider the extent to which they are relevant to 21st-century digital life, debate the evaluative criteria for deciding “the best that has been thought and said,” and finally read and discuss some classical works we collectively feel merit our consideration.

English 390-2: Transnational/Transatlantic Literature: After 1900 (Brandie Siegfried) (Taught together with GWS 422)

This course offers you an in-depth survey of the theories and philosophies that underpin the transnational discipline of Women’s Studies.  The scope of the assigned readings is broadly international, and includes the work of thinkers from Sweden, Japan, France, China, Russia, Egypt, England, Nigeria, the United States, South Africa, Bolivia, Senegal, Germany, Tanzania, Norway, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, etc.  These essays are valued for their literary art as well as for their concern with human rights and the ideals of truth, justice, and equality.

English 394-1: Applied English: Inspace Magazine (John Bennion)

Students will publish the print version of Inscape: a Journal of Literature and Art. Staff members learn the business and craft of editing and publishing through soliciting, evaluating, editing, and laying out pieces of writing. The staff uses publishing software such as WordPress, Photoshop, InDesign, and others, and such platforms as Scholars Archive and Submittable. Students will also create a resume or vita, articulate their skills/competencies in the form of a letter of application or personal statement, and practice being interviewed for a position. This internship class is designed for creative writers and those who want to work in the publishing industry; it can be especially helpful to editing or creative writing minors.

English 394-2: 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 394-3: Applied English: The Provo City Lab (Jamin Rowan)

In this section of English 394R, students will work with local government and other civic-minded organizations to improve urban design, public transportation, and community development. Students might, for instance, assist city planners in developing and writing one of the city’s neighborhood plans or help develop a culture of active transportation on campus. The course is designed to help students recognize that they can draw upon the competencies they have developed in their English, General Education, and other courses in their efforts to contribute in important ways to the communities to which they belong.

English 396-1: Studies in Women’s Literature: 1900-Present (Kristin Matthews)

This course examines questions raised by and in American women’s literature from 1960-present—questions about gender, race, economics, language, self, beauty, and the body. Reading fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, and autobiography, the course will be run as an interdisciplinary seminar drawing from various historical, philosophical, and sociological texts to supplement our literary readings. The course emphasizes critical thinking, which we will arrive at through spirited exchange, discussion, and much writing. The class does not operate by lecture; we are collectively responsible for its intellectual activities. Because these texts demand self-conscious and ethical readership, I too expect you to be a responsible reader, an informed discussant, and an engaged participant in the course’s production of meaning. Our class will rely upon your readings and questions to propel the discussion. This is a rigorous class—be prepared.

English 418-1: Advanced Creative Writing – Fiction (Steve Tuttle)

This class is a fiction-writing workshop. Students will study models and theories of the genre and participate in regular workshops to discuss and improve their own writing.

English 495-2: The Senior Course: Translation Studies & Literature in English (Emron Esplin)

What can a course on translation studies offer an English major? For starters, it will reveal that our literary canons are grounded on translated texts and that our very language changes as translated texts enter our literary traditions. “English” as a field of study relies heavily on the translation of ideas, theories, concepts, and literary texts from other languages. This course offers an introduction to various theories of literary translation and to the growing field of translation studies. We will examine several versions of key translated texts that form the center of literary study in English—e.g. the Bible, The Iliad, 1001 Nights—we will question the notions of translatability and fidelity, we will highlight the importance of paratextual materials, and we will challenge the hierarchical relationship between “originals” and translations. The final course assignment will allow both for projects that examine texts in two languages (e.g. a Spanish-language original alongside an English-language translation) and for projects that analyze multiple versions of one or more texts in English.

English 495-3: The Senior Course: Nature and Poetry (Michael Lavers)

Course description: What exactly is nature? Where do our ideas about nature come from? What are some of the first literary texts devoted to depicting the natural world and our feeling of detachment from it, and how are these texts inspiring their own literary descendants today, in a century of ecological crisis? According to scholar Jonathan Bate, “poetry is the place where we save the earth.” Could this be true? This course will explore these questions, and many others, by examining not only poetry (such as Theocritus, Virgil, Shakespeare, Keats, John Clare, T. S. Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, Derek Walcott and more), but some short fiction, philosophy, criticism, and a Russian “dark pastoral” science fiction film. We will write critical and creative projects that help us understand the strange relationship between humans and nature, and how poetry–or art in general–mediates between the two.

English 495-4: The Senior Course: The Coming and Going of Print Culture (Nick Mason)

This senior seminar will study how a variety of writers – ranging from towering figures like Jonathan Swift and Jane Austen to young Americans and Europeans just bursting on the scene today – have grappled with the two most significant revolutions in human communications since the invention of writing: the emergence of print culture in the 18th and 19th centuries and today’s transition from print to digital media. Our readings, class discussions, and semester-end projects will explore such questions as: How did 18th-century anxieties over the supposedly “ruinous” effect of too much reading prefigure 21st-century fears about what screen-based media are doing to our minds and morals? How did the rise of near-universal reading and writing alter human cognition and what mental capacities are likely to expand or atrophy in our new media ecology? And, finally, how have such traditional aspects of the “literary” experience as reading aloud, committing favorite passages to memory, annually re-reading favorite books, and carefully annotating classic books disappeared or evolved with the transition to digital culture?

English 495-5: The Senior Course: Rhetoric and Aesthetics in the Harlem Renaissance (Greg Clark)

In the early years of the 20th century, an urgent project of African Americans was to articulate for themselves and for other Americans their developing identity as fellow citizens of a democratic nation. Many who moved from the South to the North for better living conditions during these years gathered in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem where they created a vibrant community where individuals wrote, painted, played music, danced, and performed theater that expressed their own cultural experience of life in America that persistently asserted African-American equality. They articulated important ideas about what African-American artistic expression could look and sound and feel like (aesthetics) as well as how it should work to change the attitudes and actions of all Americans about their place in the post-slavery nation (rhetoric). We will read and discuss literary expressions of this rhetorical aesthetic as well as study its expression in other artistic forms. Student work in this research-based course will focus on, first, examining a variety of statements about what African American art ought to be and, then, developing from that study some explanations of rhetorical effects and influences of artistic statements that Harlem produced.

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