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


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.


Fall 2020


English 295-1: Writing Literary Criticism: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales  (Miranda Wilcox)


English 295-2: Writing Literary Criticism: Reading and Critiquing Flannery O’Connor (Keith Lawrence)


English 295-3: Writing Literary Criticism: Yankton Sioux activist and intellectual, Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (Zitkala-Ša)  (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 295-4: Writing Literary Criticism: Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried (Jamin Rowan)


English 295-5: Writing Literary Criticism: Austen’s Persuasion (Meridith Reed)

This class will be offered as a live remote course on MWF 1:00-1:50 pm.


English 306-1: Travel Writing (John Bennion)

Students who take the course are also required to take Experience Design and Management 223 as the vehicle for their outdoor activity. Good writing comes from close observation, later meditated upon.  In Wilderness Writing students rock climb, rappel, hike, and backpack in the mountains or desert and then create personal narratives from their outdoor encounters. The class draws from the outdoor skills of Peter Ward, of the Experience Design and Management Department, and the creative writing skills of John Bennion, of the English Department. Students keep journals; read and discuss samples of professional natural history writing; generate personal narratives; and workshop each other’s writing.


English 318-1: Writing Fiction: The Novel


English 318-2: Writing Fiction: The Short Story (Steve Tuttle)


English 327-1: Studies in Rhetoric: Rhetoric and the Arts (Greg Clark)

The idea that “rhetoric” as communication intended to influence others operates in artistic (or aesthetic) expression as well as argumentation. The most practical attempt at persuasion relies on elements like story or image or rhythm to succeed, just as the most refined examples of literature and visual art and even music influence and persuades. Aristotle acknowledged this by connecting his Rhetoric and his Poetics, and much more recent thinkers about rhetoric and aesthetics have described both art and persuasion working this way. Through theory and modern examples, this course will explore how what we call rhetoric and art (broadly defined) work together to change our minds and hearts.


English 333-1: The British Novel  (Nick Mason)

As a course fulfilling the English major’s genre requirement, ENGL 333 follows the evolution of the British novel from its eighteenth-century origins through the present day. We will begin by exploring the cultural, literary, and historical contexts that gave rise to the genre and reading characteristic chapters from pioneering eighteenth-century novels by Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, and Sterne. From there we will turn to three fictional masterpieces of the “long nineteenth century”: Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the fictional debut of the world’s most enduringly popular pre-twentieth-century writer; George Eliot’s Middlemarch, the epic portrait of an 1830s Midlands community that is widely considered the preeminent novel in the British tradition; and E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View, an irresistibly witty tale of stoic Britons discovering their inner passions while visiting Florence. In our final unit, we’ll study the ongoing interplay between tradition and innovation in three ground-breaking novels of the past century: L. G. Gibbon’s Sunset Song, a World War I-era saga that Scots routinely rank as their country’s greatest novel; Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, a harrowing riff on the “teacher who made a difference” subgenre; and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, perhaps the most acclaimed British novel of our new century.


English 339-1: Studies in Nonfiction: Women and the Essay (Pat Madden)

Who’s your favorite essayist? OK, now who’s you’re favorite woman essayist? Good, now who’s your favorite pre-twentieth-century woman essayist? If you have answers to all of these questions, then this is the class for you. And if you don’t have answers for any or all of these questions, then… this is the class for you. We will enjoy the wonderful, underknown and underappreciated works of dozens of women essayists from the seventeenth century to the present, pondering such important issues as education, friendship, death, childhood, race, and how best to respond to being pickpocketed.


English 358-1: Ethnic Literatures (Latina/o 1900 to present): Latinx Literary History 1900-present  (Trent Hickman)


English 363-1: American Literature 1914-1960: American Modernist and Early Postmodernist Novelists and Playwrights (Keith Lawrence)


English 364-1: Literature and Cultures of the American West: Ideological and historical constructions of the West, including units on Cowboy, Environment, Autobiography, First Nation, and Performance. Taught with AM ST 300.  (Phil Snyder)

We’ll be discussing contemporary Western American literatures and cultures with an emphasis on the ideological and historical constructions of the West organized into five major units: Cowboy (All the Pretty Horses by McCarthy and Last Buckaroo by Hedges), Environment (Desert Solitaire by Abbey and Red by Williams), Autobiography (Riding the White Horse Home by Jordan and The Meadow by Galvin), First Nation (Fools Crow by Welch and Storyteller by Silko), and Performance (assorted music and poetry).

To immerse ourselves a bit in these cultures, we’ll supplement our readings and discussions with some field trips connected to each of these units. Three of the field trips will take place on Thursday from 9:30-12 (Cowboy and Autobiography to Snyder Spread in Salem, First Nation to BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures) and two on Saturday (Environment to Arches National Park and Performance to Heber Valley Music and Poetry). We’ll also have some guest speakers. Requirements include attendance/participation, reading quizzes, field trip journal, and semester project. Please contact Phil at for answers to questions you may have.

Check out a video of the course at


English 366-1: Studies in Poetry: American Poetry from the Mid-Twentieth Century to Present  (Trent Hickman)


English 374-1: British Literature 1789-1832 – The Romantic Period: Women & Men, Love & Marriage in the Age of Austen  (Nick Mason)

Courses on British Romanticism frequently emphasize literary responses to such monumental historical developments as the French Revolution, the rise of industrial capitalism, and the fight to end the British slave trade. With so many grand geopolitical angles to pursue, it can be easy to overlook the simultaneous – but similarly consequential – revolution in the domestic roles, habits, and ideologies of everyday Britons. This section of ENGL 374 will accordingly move the so-called “private sphere” from the periphery to center stage. Over the course of the semester, we will explore how Romantic-era writers grappled with such fraught issues (then and now) as the rules for courtship, ideal qualities in a prospective spouse, the natures and nurturing of men and women, and the respective duties of husbands and wives, sons and daughters, and bachelors and spinsters. Alongside historical and sociological studies on these topics, we will read two remarkable novels interrogating the period’s gender norms, Maria Edgeworth’s  Belinda and Jane Austen’s Emma; essays on women’s education by Mary Wollstonecraft and a spate of men and women she inspired or unsettled; and intimate poetic and diaristic accounts of love, grief, and daily life within the Wordsworth household.

English 376-1: British Literature 1900-1950 – The Modern Period  (Aaron Eastley)

The aim of the course is to expand on the ideas introduced in previous survey courses through indepth study of additional poetry, critical writings, and especially novels written by prominent British authors between 1890 and 1950. In concert with reading and discussing this literature, students are expected to engage with it in meaningful ways through focused analytical writing informed by scholarly research and literary theory. This section of English 376 will focus particularly on issues of race and empire in relation to works of British Modernist literature, especially the fiction of Joseph Conrad and James Joyce. We will also seek to contextualize British Modernism within the framework of emerging theories of Global Modernism and Planetary Modernisms.


English 382-1: Shakespeare (Gideon Burton)


English 382-2: Shakespeare (Gideon Burton)


English 382-3: Shakespeare: Music and Masquing in Shakespeare  (Sharon Harris)


English 384-1: Major Authors (American): Ernest Hemingway  (Dennis Cutchins)

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.

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.


English 390-1: Transnational/Transatlantic Literature (1900-Present): Transnational Discipline of Women’s Studies  (Brandie Siegfried)

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: Inscape 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, content editing, and formatting 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: 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.

For IP&T 495R (taught together w/394) Design Thinking Minor.

Students in the Provo City Lab (IP&T 498R, Sec. 1) will work directly with Provo’s urban planners and residents from the Pleasant View Neighborhood to develop a plan that will guide future development in the neighborhood. Students will learn principles of urban design, community development, and transportation planning as they work alongside professional planners and active residents to create and document a vision for a more livable, sustainable, and inclusive neighborhood. Students will assist residents from the Pleasant View neighborhood in presenting the neighborhood plan to the Municipal Council and Mayor. The course is designed to help students recognize that the competencies of design thinking and other disciplines can help them to contribute in important ways to the communities to which they belong.


English 399-1: Academic Internship: Online.  (Danny Damron)

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 more information.


English 399-2: Academic Internship: Writing Center  (David Stock)


English 399-3: Academic Internship: Special Topics  (Trina Harding)


English 418-1: Advanced Creative Writing – Fiction: The Story Cycle  (Spencer Hyde)


English 495-1 and 494-1: The Senior Course: Language-Arts Studies as Leadership Development  (Nancy Christiansen)

The big question of this course will be whether and to what extent literary studies belong in leadership training. This question is as old as literary studies themselves, and for the first several millennia of western civilization literary studies formed the core of leadership training, while during the last 250 years the two subjects have been regarded generally as opposed, with leadership very much an aspect of “the active life” and literature merely a pleasurable pastime or aspect of “the contemplative life.” Much is at stake for both literary studies and leadership training in how this question is answered. To examine the relationships between these two disciplines, we will compare and contrast the earlier unified language arts (rhetorical) curriculum with the more recent bifurcated curricula of English departments (literary studies) and business schools (leadership training), along with recent scholarship on what makes good leaders and good leadership training. We will also consider relations between language arts proficiency, democratic processes, civilization building, and leadership. Then we will explore through both analysis and practice what literary studies can provide for leadership training and what leadership studies can provide, if anything, for literary training. Such work will enable us to answer: “What is the value of a literary education and why?,” “What would the ideal curriculum for literary studies be and why?,” and “What would the ideal curriculum for leadership training be and why?” Students will also leave the course having developed improved literary and leadership skills.


English 495-2: The Senior Course: Frankenstein Adaptations  (Dennis Perry)

In this course we will read Shelley’s Frankenstein and study important film adaptations of the novel, including Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein and 1935 Bride of Frankenstein, Fisher’s 1957 Curse of Frankenstein, Nispel’s 2004 Frankenstein, and Burton’s 2010 Frankenweenie. We will also study film adaptation theory which we will apply to our longer research paper. As one of the most adapted novels, Frankenstein presents a rich field for studying intertextual adaptation, and is itself a model of adaptation in Shelley’s patchwork of textual influences, including Paradise Lost, Promethean mythology, Caleb Williams, and others.


English 495-3: The Senior Course: Contemporary African American Literature and the Politics of Home  (Kristin Matthews)

America has been called “home of the brave” and “land of the free.” “Home” invites ideas of inclusion, community, and safety. At the same time, “home” also communicates a sense of “belongingness” that, while including some, necessarily excludes “others” from particular spaces, places, and orders. Understood in these ways, “home” becomes a concept that is at once philosophical, psychological, and political. Our class will focus on the ideas, performance, and complexities of “home” in modern African American literature. Our texts pose key questions about “home” and its relationship to geography, ancestry, language, history, displacement, class, and gender. Ultimately, the texts selected for this course examine what it means and what it takes to feel “at home” in one’s community and one’s own skin.


English 495-4: The Senior Course: Reading Poe Now  (Emron Esplin)

In an 1835 letter to an editor who found one of his pieces a bit too disturbing, Edgar Allan Poe responded, “To be appreciated you must be read, and these things are invariably sought after with avidity.” Both literary scholarship and popular culture demonstrate that Poe has been read consistently from the mid-1800s until now, although the appreciation came a bit later. In this course, we will read a lot of Poe. The “now” will become apparent in at least four ways. First, what do Poe’s works say, for better and for worse, about pressing issues of our times, including pandemics, race relations, climate change, and populism? Second, what can Poe tell us about fear, terror, horror, and other emotions that we are all experiencing in 2020? Third, what are scholars saying about Poe in current Poe scholarship? Fourth, what is Poe’s influence on world literature and global popular culture? This section of English 495 will seek to answer these questions by reading and examining a significant amount of Poe’s literary corpus and by exploring a wide range of contemporary and historical Poe scholarship.


English 495-5: The Senior Course: Forster and Woolf  (Jarica Watts)

This class will focus on two 20th century masters of English prose, E.M. Forster and Virginia Woolf. These two authors knew each other well, and many consider Forster a periphery member of the Bloomsbury Group. In this course, we will cover a representative sample of both writers’ work-fiction and non-fiction, as well as critical and biographical scholarship about them. Both authors wrote about the writing process. Given that a capstone paper is the final requirement for this course, we will concern much of our time with parsing what makes not only good literature but also good criticism.