Skip to main content

Upcoming Course Offerings

Winter 2023
  • In this course, we will study a few works by the contemporary Irish playwright Brian Friel, but our goal will be to use those works as a means of exploring, understanding, and practicing the conventions of written literary criticism. Although this course is officially titled "Writing Literary Criticism," however, I think it is slightly misleading to speak of it solely as a "writing" rather than "literature" course—it is, certainly, not focused on literary content or literary history, but your ability to understand literature such that you can articulate intelligent, well-formed arguments about it depends upon your ability to close-read texts, conduct in-depth research, and, simply or not so simply, write. Thus, I like to think of 303 as a writing and literature course in the sense that any serious engagement with literature requires precise thought, clear analysis, and a unique sensitivity to the structures and nuances of language, both the language of the literary text and the language through which you discuss the text—in other words, the language of the critic, which can and should be artfully crafted.

  • 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.

  • Art Spiegelman's Maus is a graphic novel that presents the story of Spiegelman interviewing his father about the Holocaust. While the story is true, Spiegelman's postmodern interpretation of his family's history presents all the characters as animals (the Jews as mice, the Nazis as cats, etc.). The resulting text is difficult to categorize, but rich in thematic impact and literary merit. In this section of 303, students will become conversant in the strengths of the comic book/graphic novel medium, explore the unique aspects of Spiegelman's iconic work, and develop proficiency in applying secondary critical sources while engaging in literary analysis.

  • ENGL 318R section 003 will focus on writing science fiction. Admittance to class by application only. Application can be found at https://faq.brandonsanderson.com/knowledge-base/application-for-byu-318-r-section-2/.

  • What difference does it make to consider something a tale? We’ll study each major genre in Shakespeare and dig into adaptations as tales retold. First is the genre-bending social commentary of Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you hated this in high school; we’re up to the challenge. Then we move to the urban fable Measure for Measure. Third is the winding romance Pericles, possibly paired with the film Interstellar. Fourth is Midsummer Night’s Dream, a fairytale for grownups, and we’ll see it live at BYU. The semester finishes with Henry VIII, or All Is True where we explore what happens when history becomes a tale.

  • This course focuses on American science fiction in a transmedia environment, and looks specifically at a handful of text-clusters that have influenced the field. These include Rocketship XM, The Thing From Another World, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and I Am Legend. Each of these titles represents multiple texts expressed in different media across decades. The resilience and the resonance of these texts suggests their cultural and artistic importance.

  • Some of the most powerful literary texts ever written depict trauma and injustice leading to eventual forgiveness and reconciliation. These are frightfully difficult issues with plenty of contemporary real-world application. We will attempt to delve deeply into these issues, looking to answer that elusive question: How to live? Texts will be drawn from across the world, with units on the UK, India, Africa, and the Caribbean.

  • In the history of modern African literature, Nigeria has been the locus of significant innovations. From Chinua Achebe’s now-canonical Things Fall Apart to the Afro-futurist writings of Nnedi Okorafor, Nigerian writers have played a particularly important role in the development of the novel as a “postcolonial” genre in Africa. Such writers are typically set in the context of the literatures of the African continent and/or global Anglophone literatures more broadly, but this course proposes to focus on the "Nigerian novel" as a more local and geographically-distinct tradition. Beginning with the deep narrative traditions of Nigerian orature, we will then examine some of the most important works of Nigerian fiction in the last 75 years, including (at least) Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, Chris Abani’s Graceland, and Nnedi Okorafor’s The Book of Phoenix. Throughout, we will attend to questions of narrative form and its relationship to politics, history, gender, religion, globalization, materialism, and more.

  • What difference does it make to consider something a tale? We’ll study each major genre in Shakespeare and dig into adaptations as tales retold. First is the genre-bending social commentary of Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you hated this in high school; we’re up to the challenge. Then we move to the urban fable Measure for Measure. Third is the winding romance Pericles, possibly paired with the film Interstellar. Fourth is Midsummer Night’s Dream, a fairytale for grownups, and we’ll see it live at BYU. The semester finishes with Henry VIII, or All Is True where we explore what happens when history becomes a tale.

  • Assignments for the course will include (but are not limited to) three short close reading paper (3-4 pages), a set of article abstracts, a term project prospectus (1-2 pages), a term project abstract (1 page), and a term research paper (9-10 pages), as well as a paper midterm and an oral final.

    This class will focus on five of Hemingway’s books/novels, The Old Man and the Sea, Death in the Afternoon, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and To Have and Have Not, as well as large number of his short stories including “The Battler,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” “My Old Man,” “The Killers,” and “Big Two Hearted River I, II.” We will also look at two of the documentaries he helped make, Death in the Afternoon, and The Spanish Earth, and read at least one biography (though I have not decided which one, yet).

    Students will be asked to read and analyze each of the literary texts. They will also be required to watch and analyze a few film adaptations. We will particularly focus on the adaptations as interpretations of the literary texts. Since we have a few primary documents concerning the adaptation of To Have and Have Not in our library we’ll also spend some time in Special Collections working through some of those materials.

  • George Herbert, the greatest writer of Christian literature in English, is also the most formally shifty. The idea of this course is to trace his quest for God in the dazzling variety of his stanza-forms and the restlessness of his meters. Attention to biographical, religious, and literary contexts. With guest appearances from Herbert's antecedents (such as Mary Sidney) to successors, right down to the present day, whose search for the divine is embodied (there's the theological idea) in the shapes of their stanzas and the poetic meters.

  • This course will explore the vibrant field of nineteenth century British short fiction. We’ll read many of the classics—Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective fiction, Rudyard Kipling’s tales of adventure, Charles Dickens’ spooky Christmas stories. And 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.

  • When we think of a poet, we think of something or someone much like the people described by Wordsworth and Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats for whom nature and the imagination were preeminent. This course looks at what would appear to be the odd but enduring legacy of English Romanticism among people historically or politically at odds with England. Special attention will be given to the Irish neo-Romanticism of Yeats and Heaney, the Welsh neo-Romanticism of Dylan Thomas, Edward Thomas, R. S. Thomas, and Leslie Norris, and the Caribbean neo-Romanticism of Derek Walcott. Ultimately, we will seek to ascertain just how English this thing that we call Romanticism really is.

  • Students publish the print version of Inscape: a Journal of Literature and Art in fall semester and the digital version in winter semester. The journal is managed by graduate students in the MFA program, but undergraduate students may apply to be team leads. Staff members learn the business and craft of editing and publishing through soliciting, evaluating, content editing, and formatting pieces of writing. Experts in publishing, writing, editing, and marketing guest lecture during class as well. The staff learns and uses publishing software such as Wordpress, Photoshop, InDesign, and others, and such platforms as Scholars Archive and Submittable. Students will also create a professional portfolio that includes a resume and cover letter/letter of application, a mock interview, a fleshed-out LinkedIn profile, and a job networking experience. The Inscape internship 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. Inscape is the best student journal experience on campus—and it looks great on a resume!

  • This course has two dimensions: publishing a scholarly journal and developing competencies that empower students to connect their BYU education to a variety of professional contexts. The publishing side involves taking an issue of Criterion: A Journal of Literary Criticism through all stages of the publication process from soliciting submissions to producing the issue in both print and electronic formats. Alongside this work, the course engages students in a process of learning how to communicate the value and relevance of skills developed at BYU in resumes and job interviews.

    This course is geared toward juniors. Criterion will continue to function as a club alongside the class, and students at other stages are invited to participate. Future members of the editorial team (as part of the course) will be drawn from club participants. Joining the club in preparation for the course is a good way of making English+ an integral part of your time at BYU.

  • 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.

  • This course will examine writings by contemporary Black feminists. Black feminism centers the experiences of Black women, understanding their position in relation to racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia, as well as other social and political identities. Black feminism has a rich heritage going back to the foundations of the United States—a heritage that is both separate from and in conversation with white feminism (a.k.a. “mainstream feminism” or “feminism”) that has long ignored the particular lived experiences of Black, Indigenous and Women of Color (BIWOC). In our contemporary moment, Black feminists and women are at the fore of the freedom struggle both in the streets and in the academy. Further, twenty-first century texts by Black feminists and women have dominated the best-seller lists, awards roster, and book club selections. All of these things invite us to read from and learn with these texts, for as the Black feminists comprising the pioneering Combahee River Collective wrote, “Until Black women are free, none of us will be free.” We will begin reading some foundational texts in academic, social, and popular Black feminism, after which will read texts have been written in the last five to ten years. Doing so will help us to understand the conversations, individuals, and texts central to our contemporary moment.

  • In the history of modern African literature, Nigeria has been the locus of significant innovations. From Chinua Achebe’s now-canonical Things Fall Apart to the Afro-futurist writings of Nnedi Okorafor, Nigerian writers have played a particularly important role in the development of the novel as a “postcolonial” genre in Africa. Such writers are typically set in the context of the literatures of the African continent and/or global Anglophone literatures more broadly, but this course proposes to focus on the "Nigerian novel" as a more local and geographically-distinct tradition. Beginning with the deep narrative traditions of Nigerian orature, we will then examine some of the most important works of Nigerian fiction in the last 75 years, including (at least) Amos Tutuola’s The Palm Wine Drinkard, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, Chris Abani’s Graceland, and Nnedi Okorafor’s The Book of Phoenix. Throughout, we will attend to questions of narrative form and its relationship to politics, history, gender, religion, globalization, materialism, and more.

  • ONLINE SEMESTER CLASS with instructor and TA interaction, discussion boards and webinars that may include scheduled in person or online SYNCHRONOUS required attendance. Please visit the website for more information.

  • 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.

  • In recent years and in the wake of postmodernist inquiry, critical attention has turned anew not only to the study of how we represent the past but of memory itself–how it is formed, how it is transformed, and how it is deformed by nostalgia and trauma. Even as scholars reorient and refresh this discussion, they still frequently find themselves revisiting the past and memory in its individual, familial, collective, national, environmental, and biological iterations. Our course will familiarize you with some of the seminal theoretical texts on this return to studies of memory in its various forms, will introduce you into some of the current scholarly debates surrounding them, and will finally ask you to identify how the contemporary American literature we will study together incorporates representational strategies which speak to these concerns.

  • This course will examine contemporary works of poetry that respond to, adapt, reframe, revise, and redefine literary texts from early modern England. We will consider such appropriations as an act of criticism, a means not only of reengaging with the literary tradition but of reading current and vital concerns back onto Renaissance texts, revealing the potential expansions and enduring resonances they contain. Class discussion will address historiographical, pedagogical, and ethical questions, and contemplate what it means to consider a Renaissance as “open” or “closed” in geographical, historical, as well as political terms.

  • 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.