Faculty News


The English Department Faculty Awards were announced last month. The 2016 Citizenship Award was given to Professor Joey Franklin (below, top left). The 2016 Scholarship Award went to Professor Patrick Madden (below, top right). The 2016 Teacher of the Year Award was presented to Professor John Bennion (below, bottom left). And the 2016 Adjunct Faculty Award was given to Carol Lynch Williams (below, bottom right).






Conference on the Eighteenth Century Features English Department Faculty

On February 16-18, 2017, the South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (SCSECS) held its annual conference at the Downtown Salt Lake City Radisson. Brett McInelly, current president of SCSECS, planned and organized the conference, which included over 70 attendees from dozens of colleges and universities from across the country and the world, including Singapore, New Zealand, Russia, and Scotland. Plenary speakers included Dr. Michael Brown of the University of Aberdeen, who was introduced by Dr. Matthew Wickman, and our own Dr. Nicholas Mason, whose presentation was entitled “Imported Tastes, Invasive Species, and the Politics of Forestry in Wordsworth’s Britain.”

The conference received a good deal of local support, including participants from Utah Valley University, the University of Utah, Weber State University, and BYU. Billy Hall and Mary Eyring organized and chaired panels, and nine of our graduate students presented papers. The conference was funded, in part, by generous contributions from Scott Miller, dean of the College of Humanities; Phil Snyder, chair of the English Department; and Barry Weller, chair of the English Department at the University of Utah.

The organization's webpage can be found here.




Poetry Prize Awarded to Michael Lavers

Our very own Professor Michael Lavers has won The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor's International Poetry Prize, 2016, for his poem "Your Father at Fourteen."

One of the judges said of Lavers's poem, "... every stanza felt fresh and engaging. . . . The poem also manages a form of poignancy in a subject field where sentimentality is a common pitfall, and takes chances with the narrative so as to create a form of suspense across its final stanzas, a suspense both literal and figurative."

The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor's International Poetry Prize celebrates the enduring significance of poetry to cultures everywhere in the world, and its ongoing and often seminal importance to world literatures.

Read a copy of the poem in Temble here.

Dr. Emily Petersen to Be Honored at Conference

Dr. Emily Petersen will receive a 2017 CCCC Outstanding Dissertation Award in Technical Communication for her dissertation, “‘Reasonably Bright Girls’: Theorizing Women’s Agency in Technological Systems of Power.” She will be presented with a certificate during the 2017 Conference on College Composition and Communication Convention in Portland, Oregon, on March 17.

Learn more about CCCC Grants and Awards

Westover and Matthews Books Celebrated

Faculty joined together earlier this month to celebrate two books by colleagues. Paul Westover's Transatlantic Literature and Author Love in the Nineteenth Century (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) is a collection of essays that explore how readers in the 1800s expressed love for books and authors in a variety of media. Prof. Frank Christianson gave a brief review of the book, concluding that "With essays on Sarah Hale, Wordsworth, Cooper, and Tennyson, among others, this collection may be one of the best explanations to date of how the English literary canon was shaped by a transatlantic context. More importantly, it speaks effectively to more fundamental questions of why we read, and study, and cherish literature in the first place, and how certain kinds of love inspire us to affiliate with each other across space and time and make a culture of the stories we share."

Prof. Ed Cutler reviewed Kristin Matthews's Reading America: Citizenship, Democracy, and Cold War Literature(University of Massachusetts Press, 2016). He says Matthews's book answers such questions as "Do good readers really make better citizens, or might 'reading well' serve to acculturate an acquiesce toward established authority, to a greatness already distilled in the Great Books and, by extension, the triumphalist self-image of American liberalism itself? What happens when writers and readers shake off the passive inwardness of middlebrow reading and turn the tables on the question of what is to be read and why?"

Read the reviews





Professor Esplin Lectures in Spain

In November 2016, Emron Esplin spent the Thanksgiving holiday giving MA classes as an invited guest of La Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha in Albacete, Spain. The first of his two primary lectures focused on Edgar Allan Poe, Jorge Luis Borges, and detective fiction, and the second presentation examined the literary relationship between Borges and Poe as Esplin has analyzed it in his recent book, Borges's Poe: Influence and the Reinvention of Edgar Allan Poe in Spanish America. The two lectures set out to show students how to craft a project that could enter a larger academic conversation by demonstrating the work that had already been done on Poe and Borges and then laying new ground about their relationship outside and beyond detective fiction.

Learn more about UCLM

Professor Kimberly Johnson Elected to MLA Delegate Assembly

Professor Kimberly Johnson was recently elected to the MLA Delegate Assembly, representing creative writing. The Modern Language Association is the leading professional organization for the study and teaching of languages and literatures in the United States. The organization has 25,000 members in over 100 countries. Professor Johnson will serve a term of three years.

Learn more about MLA!

Utah Council of Teachers of English

UCTE: On November 11th the Utah Council of Teachers of English held their annual conference at the Jordan Commons Megaplex in Sandy, Utah. Jon Ostenson, a past president of UCTE and current conference chair, planned and organized the event for over 400 teachers and educators from across the state. In addition to two nationally recognized keynote speakers, breakout sessions included presentations by multiple BYU alumni as well as a session by Chris Crowe and Dawan Coombs entitled “Staying Fired Up to Avoid Burning Out.” This was Jon’s third year acting in the role of conference chair.

Learn more about UCTE

BYU English Faculty Presents at the National Council of Teachers of English

NCTE: The 2016 annual conference of the National Council of Teachers of English took place on November 17-20th in Atlanta, Georgia and featured a number of presentations by BYU faculty. Chris Crowe gave a keynote speech at a roundtable session entitled “Eight Great American Texts that Inspire Social Change,” and Jon Ostenson, Sirpa Grierson and Dawan Coombs each presented research in individual breakout sessions. In addition, Debbie Dean, who currently serves as an NCTE policy analyst for the state of Utah, participated in multiple sessions and meetings. Four current BYU English teaching majors mentored by the faculty also presented at the student research roundtable—Kristen Oda, Rachel Freeze, Demarie Long and Madison Stewart. The two-day Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) workshop followed NCTE and both Chris Crowe (a past ALAN president) and Jon Ostenson (ALAN webmaster) participated here as well.

Learn more about NCTE

New Book by Kristin Matthews

During the Cold War, the editor of Time magazine declared, "A good citizen is a good reader." As postwar euphoria faded, a wide variety of Americans turned to reading to understand their place in the changing world. Yet, what did it mean to be a good reader? And how did reading make you a good citizen?

In Reading America: Citizenship, Democracy, and Cold War Literature (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book, University of Massachusetts Press), Kristin L. Matthews puts into conversation a range of political, educational, popular, and touchstone literary texts to demonstrate how Americans from across the political spectrum―including "great works" proponents, New Critics, civil rights leaders, postmodern theorists, neoconservatives, and multiculturalists―celebrated particular texts and advocated particular interpretive methods as they worked to make their vision of "America" a reality. She situates the fiction of J. D. Salinger, Ralph Ellison, Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, and Maxine Hong Kingston within these debates, illustrating how Cold War literature was not just an object of but also a vested participant in postwar efforts to define good reading and citizenship. (Taken from Amazon review)

Read more about it




"Live Life Large: Finding Art in the Everyday"

Professor Lance Larsen and his wife, artist Jacqui Larsen, presented an entertaining and thought-provoking lecture at BYU this month. They talked about how to find joy and beauty in life through a series of anecdotes and photographs. Jacqui did a year-long project of walking daily in a three-mile radius of their home. She photographed items that impressed her, ordinary items such as the sky or a circular staircase. Those items made their way into her art and that art was recently exhibited at the Springville Art Museum. Lance talked about the importance of broadening one’s reading as a way to become more sensitive to art and beauty. He mentioned forgiveness, too, as a means to finding joy. He recommended to audience members that we take advantage of cultural and intellectual offerings here at BYU, suggesting that we “make BYU our clubhouse.”

The lecture was well received by an audience comprised of staff and administrative personnel on campus.

Check out more of Jacqui's work!



Martine Leavitt Awarded Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature

Martine Leavitt will be awarded the Governor General's Literary Award for Young People's Literature in Ottawa on Nov. 30, for her book Calvin. Inaugurated in 1937 for 1936 publications in two categories, the Governor General's Literary Awards have become one of Canada's most prestigious prizes. And it carries a $25,000 monetary prize. (Keep that in mind when your parents ask you if there's any money in creative writing.)

The jury's statement on her winning book: "In Martine Leavitt’s Calvin, a boy newly diagnosed with schizophrenia makes a pilgrimage across a frozen Lake Erie. Told in spare, beautiful prose, this transcendent exploration of reality and truth is funny, frightening and affirming. Calvin is an astonishing achievement."

Martine Leavitt is a visiting professor at BYU this semester. She is teaching two creative writing classes for us. Students report her classes as engaging and valuable. They also mention that she gives them tools to use and then pushes them to do their best work. Sister Leavitt read in the English Reading Series a few weeks ago, proving yet again that we are blessed to have top-notch writers share their talents with BYU students.

More information about the award




Paul Westover - "Transatlantic Literature and Author Love in the Nineteenth Century"

Paul Westover's new collection of essays, "Transatlantic Literature and Author Love in the Nineteenth Century," co-edited with Ann Wierda Rowland, explores how readers on both sides of the Atlantic shaped the contours of “English literature" in the 1800s, expressing love for books and their authors through a wide variety of media and social practices. While love as such is difficult to quantify or recover, the records of such affection survive not just in print, but also (for example) in monuments, in art, in architecture, and in the ephemera of material culture. Thus, the authors aim to expand the normal range of literary reception studies.

About the book

Greg Clark joined with the Marcus Roberts Trio to present his book, "Civic Jazz"

In addition to running the conference of the Rhetoric Society of America, where he recently began his term as president, Greg Clark joined with the Marcus Roberts Trio at the Burlington Jazz Festival to present a discussion and performance of principles articulated in his book, Civic Jazz. The performance and a public interview were filmed by Vermont PBS. Dr. Clark is working with pianist and composer Marcus Roberts on an essay on "civic jazz" commissioned for the new Routledge Companion to Jazz Studies.

Learn more about Dr. Clark's book "Civic Jazz"

Reading on Location at the London Centre

Professor Miranda Wilcox enjoyed reading poetry on location in England this past summer. Standing on the headland overlooking Whitby Bay on a foggy day, she read Caedmon’s hymn in Old English. On a rocky Dover beach below the famed chalk cliff, she and several London Centre students read Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach.” After visiting Dove Cottage in the Lake District, the BYU intern at the Wordsworth Trust led them to a nearby pool along the “coffin route” to read “Resolution and Independence” at the spot where William and Dorothy Wordsworth met the leech-gatherer. On their final trip, they rambled across the Tennyson Downs on the Isle of Wight; at the Tennyson Memorial overlooking the turquoise sea and surrounded by grazing sheep they read “Crossing the Bar.” Then they descended to Alum Bay where they dipped their feet in the waves while admiring the white Needles jutting off into the English Channel.

Learn more about the London Centre



Patrick Madden Recieves Second Place Award in the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition

Creative Writing professor Patrick Madden was awarded second place in the Utah Arts Council Original Writing Competition Creative Nonfiction Division for his essay, "Missing." Professor Madden shared the winning essay last year at the English Reading Series.

Learn more about the Utah Original Writing Competition

Professor Brett McInelly: Research Fellow at OCMCH Summer 2016

Professor Brett McInelly spent part of the past summer as a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Methodism and Church History at Oxford Brookes University. He made significant headway on his most recent project, examining the ways critics responded to George Whitefield and Methodism in colonial America. Though extremely popular among the colonists, Whitefield, as he did in Britain, attracted his share of negative press, to which he responded both in print and practice. While much has been written on the anti-Methodist literature produced in Britain, relatively little attention has been paid to anti-Methodism in the American context. The themes and issues raised in response to Whitefield and Methodism in colonial America naturally intersect with many of those raised on the other side of the Atlantic, but McInelly's research suggests ways that the hostile literature in America was likewise shaped by America’s unique cultural and religious landscape.

More information about The Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History (OCMCH)



Brian Roberts Lectures at the University of Potsdam Symposium July 2016

Brian Roberts was invited to lecture at the University of Potsdam Symposium on American Territorialities this summer. His lecture, entitled "American Territorialities and the Archipelagic Frame," traced key features of a postcontinental and archipelagic American imaginary. Dr. Roberts described the study of the archipelagic Americas' interlinked cultures, aiming to crystallize emergent trends in Americanist scholarship, namely, a turn toward approaching islands, island-sea assemblages, and coastline formations that goes beyond colonialist tropes and requires a new world of archipelagic understanding.

Symposium "American Territorialities"