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Reviews and Recommendations: Cyrano

By: Starla Eckhardt
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Many English majors may have heard of the play Cyrano de Bergerac, written in 1897 by French playwright Edmond Rostand. Cyrano, a genius poet and amazing swordsman, struggles with his feelings for the beautiful Roxanne. He lets the handsome Christian take credit for his beautiful letters to her because Cyrano fears that Roxanne would reject him due to his large, ugly nose. BYU’s Young Company, a theatre troop that specializes in abridging and performing classic plays for younger audiences, is currently performing their own version of the classic tale.
    As all Young Company productions are performed in under an hour, they cut some sub-plots and modernize some of the language so it is more accessible to those who have not studied these texts. This performance of Cyrano is very successful and effective in the love story as well as the love of language and rhetoric. This is a major theme of the play (one I’m sure any English major can relate to and would love to watch).
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    The beginning of the play jumps right into the action as Cyrano (John Walker) gives his famous monologue making fun of his own nose. During this opening act, we are introduced to Cyrano’s mastery of word and rhetoric as he wittily praises Roxanne, makes fun of himself, and ridicules others. When he meets Christian (Bryson Stewart), the man that Roxanne has fallen for, a musical montage ensues, showing Cyrano writing many beautiful love letters on the skill level of Alexander Hamilton. As the mood grows darker in the end of Act 3, Cyrano becomes more frantic in his letters and artful use of rhetoric until the emotions and action climax. The last love letter that Cyrano at the end of the play reads makes the heart melt and tears fall.
    Overall, this play truly inspires a passion for writing and skilled rhetoric in one’s heart. I would recommend that all English students buy a ticket and soak in the beautiful poetry. Remaining performances run at 7 PM this next Wednesday through Friday (October 5th-7th) with two final performances on Saturday, October 8th at 2 PM and 4 PM.
    The BYU English Society will also be sponsoring a Dramatic Reading of Cyrano on October 13th in F430 of the HFAC from 6-8 PM. We will be reading through the most relevant scenes of Cyrano de Bergerac and discussing the differences between the performance and the text. A PDF version can be found online if you bring an electronic device. Come and fall in love with language and rhetoric all over again!

My Internship: As A Technical Writer

By: Shelby Ward

I’m one of those people who usually gets really ticked off when people say, “Oh, you’re an English major? So…what are you planning to do with that?” Um, rule the world, thank you very much. I know that inside, they’re answering their own question: “Not make any money, that’s for sure.” This summer, however, I was able to land a job in an unexpected field PRECISELY because I was an English major with a minor in Digital Humanities. So take that, all you people who turn up your nose at us.


I was hired on by the department of Continuing Education’s Computer Operations team in April of this year as a technical writer. Talk about a foreign world! My first day on the job was a mess of computers and geeky jargon that made me feel totally out of my league. The guys in my cubicle almost kicked me out when I said I hadn’t seen “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, but then I redeemed myself by whipping out some impressive Harry Potter knowledge. Things got better.

I soon figured out that the developers were there to make everything work; I was there to explain it to everyone else. After looking over the department’s documentation, I saw that the developers were just as scared of good grammar as I was of programming. We needed each other.

My supervisor, the blessed soul that she is, decided that she wanted to give me a new skill set along with a paycheck, so she made me start coding all the documentation myself. I had to learn the programming language and worry about not crashing the whole website. It was terrifying—but so much easier than I thought! I became a valuable member of a team, and my editing skills were what set me apart.
The best part of all of this? In August, I talked to advisors here in the English department and they decided that I could count my job as an internship! Hollaaaa! So now I get to go to work every day, figure out ways to make the developers sound good, learn a few programming tricks myself, AND get credit for it. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
So to all you English majors out there—there are more options besides being a teacher. Technical writing is a growing field and we are in high demand! Don’t wait around for an internship to come to you. Learn the computer skills to make yourself marketable in today’s society and watch the doors open up.

Here are some of my co-workers at their finest, btw. They got really excited when I told them it was going on the blog.

Fun Fact Friday: Underappreciated Alphabet

Written by: Abigail Taylor


As lovers of English, we all have a special appreciation for words and their unique histories.  However, we don’t spend much time thinking about the 26 building blocks that make up the words, sentences, and stories we love so dearly.  I would like to dedicate this Fun Fact Friday to the essential but underappreciated letters of our English alphabet.  Here are 10 fun facts you probably didn’t know about the letters of our alphabet, courtesy of David Sacks and his book Language Visible.

  1. Excellent “E” – The letter “E” is the most frequently used letter in the English language.  “E” beats out the second most frequently used letter, “T,” by almost 30% more usage.Grade E+ written on an exam paper
  2. Hardly Real “H”- Some scholars have argued that we should do away with the letter “H” because it isn’t a “true letter.”  They contest that the letter “H” really doesn’t make any true sound of its own and only serves to “thicken” the sounds of other letters it is paired with.
  3. Juvenile “J”- The letter “J” is a relatively young letter, one of the last to be added to the Roman alphabet.  The letter “I” was used to represent both the “I” and “J” sounds until about 1500 A.D.  At that time, the letter “J” was adopted and “I” no longer had to do double duty.
  4. Lovely “L”-  The sound of the letter “L” is considered one of the most beautiful sounds in human speech.                                               lovely
  5. Momma “M”-  Some scholars believe that the word for “mother” starts with the “M” sound in many languages because that is one of the first sounds that a baby can make.
  6. Popular “P”- Don’t underestimate the letter “P.” One-third of the words in the English language start with the letters “S,” “C,” and “P.”
  7. Rad “R”- The letter “R” is a defining letter.  Linguists use the letter “R” to divide all English speakers into two groups: rhotic speakers, who pronounce “R’s” as they are written, and nonrhotic speakers, who leave out the “R’s.”                      letter-r
  8. Triumphant “T”-The letter “T” has historically been associated with Christ and the crucifixion because of its resemblance to a cross.
  9. Weird “W”-In the early days of the printing press, printers didn’t have a separate stamp for “W” so they literally used two lowercase “U’s” to represent the “W.”
  10. Xtra cool “X”- In medieval times, illiterate peasants often signed official documents with an “X” and then kissed the “X” to show their commitment to the terms of the document.  This practice eventually led to the letter “X” representing a kiss!


The next time you pick up your favorite novel or discover an awesome new word, make sure you take a moment to appreciate the wonderful letters that made those words possible.  If you enjoyed these facts and want to continue reading about the amazing letters that make up our alphabet, be sure to check out Language Visible by David Sacks!  Have an awesome Friday!
Check out more fun facts about the alphabet in:   Language Visible: Unraveling the Mystery of the Alphabet from A to Z by David Sacks

I am an English Major: Austin Jones


The very first word that comes to my mind when I think of Austin Jones is passionate. He loves what he does and wants to tell the whole world about it. At BYU’s most recent poetry slam, Jones stole the show with his performance of the Unapologetic English Major.

We were so impressed by his performance that we couldn’t wait to interview him and get the details on his literary life. Below you can find an insider’s look into our interview with Jones and see that he’s not only awesome while performing, but also he’s an amazing person in real life.

Q: Why do you love being an English Major?
I became an English Major because I thought math and science were boring. What I mean by that is when you learn that 2 + 2 is four everybody gets the same answer. I get four, you get four, the quiet kid in the corner gets four, the professor gets four, and then we just move on to learning something else. But in literature there is never really a right answer. The things we learn aren’t as black and white. Was Gatsby really great? Or was he just a loser? What is a particular poem trying to say about society as a whole? Those questions don’t really have a real answer so we can talk about it forever. Characters, people, situations, etc are so complex that person A and person B can arrive at different conclusions which can ultimately both be accurate; as well, each person in the room can contribute their unique life experiences to the idea giving it yet another interesting layer to investigate. Now that is way better than a class where everyone is hoping to find the same boring answer to a problem.
Then once we arrive at a suitable conclusion we learn how to effectively communicate the answer we arrived at and why we find that particular answer persuasive. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that the morality of Jay Gatsby’s actions does not actually matter in the slightest, nor are Shakespeare musings about love and relationships in sonnet 130 really important to my daily life, but the skills of honest and deliberate analysis and the ability to clearly articulate your findings are the most useful skills that I can think of. At least that’s what I hope the English major will do for my classmates and I.
Q: Could you explain a little bit about your performance and why you chose that topic?
I’m Glad you used the word performance. Slam poetry really is a performance. Some poetry is best read alone on a quiet night, some poetry is best read as a small group sitting in a graveyard, but slam poetry is meant to be performed.  To be honest, if you read my poem out of a book it would probably suck, because I’m not really hoping to just impart a bunch of words to the audience I am hoping to conjure a certain feeling. I want my audience to feel passion, I want them to feel a fire, I want them to feel excitement, and the thing I love about performing slam poetry is that if you do it right, you can become the very personification of the feelings you are trying to convey.
So that’s why I try and get so loud. I tried to start more quiet and conversational and then work myself up until I became more aggressive, loud, and passionate. I flail my arms around a lot and try to make over-the-top movements all to contribute to that same sense.
I’ve actually been thinking about writing this poem for a long time but I was hesitant to because I didn’t want to send the message that slam poetry, or any poetry, is just for English Majors. Great poets can come from any background and one of the points of slam poetry is that everyone has a unique story and point of view to be shared. That being said, I chose this topic because I am often frustrated by the stereotype attached to the English Major as being pointless and a dead end. Like I say in the poem,

“words are powerful.”

I know that that is a cliche but I when I say it I don’t want it to sound that way. I’ve been able to spend the last almost four years filling up my head with the words of some of the most brilliant and influential people to have ever lived. That’s changed me as a person for the better and I believe that in some small ways it has begun to give me the ability to persuade other people to think about the world differently. After every performance I’ve had lots of people approach me and tell me how much they like my poems. to those people, I am flattered, but my secret is that if my poems impress you or make you feel anything at all it’s not because I am some awesome genius writer but it is because I have spent a long time absorbing the great work of other people. and that’s something else I love about the English major is the opportunity to just soak up the words of brilliant men and women. 
Q: What are your other hobbies/interests?
I really believe in being well rounded. Of course I love all that other ‘English majory’ stuff too: I love books, theater, poetry and I love Harry Potter. However, I also love sports. I play volleyball, I snow ski, I wakeboard, I hike, I’m training for a half marathon. I play guitar and  bass and even sing when the moods right. I really enjoy going to concerts, especially ones where there is standing room only so I can dance and mosh and whatnot. I absolutely love to cook. Food is a big deal for me. I love to experiment with everything from Chinese food and Indian curry to BBQ and hot wings.
Q: What are the coolest things about you?
-This is actually the third poem I have written that has won the English Society poetry Slam. I was also able to perform a poem for the hunger banquet last year too, So I am starting to gather a stack of poems that I am moderately proud of.
-I served as a mandarin speaking missionary in the Scotland/ Ireland Mission, I know it sounds weird but it was great.
-I love to travel, I did the BYU London center study abroad last fall and lived in Kunming China last summer
-I was actually born in Holland, because my father was in the air force. I’m not sure If I could be president or not……
-I NEVER match my socks.
Q: What do you want people to know about your poetry, poetry slams, and the English major?
Slam poetry is awesome and for everyone! I’ve never met someone who didn’t like it once they gave it a chance
My poetry is important to me. I know that it is a success when I can get the audience to feel something. I love the challenge that that brings. I have three minutes to try and transport you to a different place with a different mood then the one you are currently in and all I get to use is my voice. It is so great when the audience responds with laughs or cheers or whatever because I know that I have hit a nerve. It’s even better when I see that something I have said sinks into someone’s head. Our thoughts are just an amalgamation of ideas from all over the place and I can’t think of a better honor then to have someone allow a thought from my head to germinate in theirs.
lastly about the English Degree….. an English degree is not about becoming your elderly high school English teacher who dinged your grade for having a misplaced comma, or who always corrected your grammar by interrupting you mid-sentence. I’ve never taken a single grammar or editing class at BYU. Sure grammar and commas are important, they are the tools of the trade. Of course a carpenter knows  about saws and wood and safety goggles but you are totally missing the point of what a carpenter is capable of creating if you waste any time at all fixated on his knowledge of saws, wood, and goggles. However, while a carpenter’s finished products are cabinets and tables a writer/poet/speaker/etc. finished product is the material of persuasion: people who have received a new perspective, or who have been persuaded to view the world differently, and when you really think about it, that is a whole lot of power.
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Austin is a slam poet, a musician, an athlete, a performer, and an English Major.

If you haven’t seen Austin’s performance yet, check it out here!

Reviews and Recommendations: Stranger Things


Yes. The show that everyone’s been talking about: the one with 5 ten-year-old kids, one of which runs around in a pink dress and hair shorter than any of the boys surrounding her. “Stranger Things,” a new series on Netflix, has become so popular within the past couple weeks it wouldn’t be surprising if a new cult following resulted.

Back in the day when children played imaginative board games, the world of four misfit kids (and eventually the entire town and some obscure part of the government) is literally turned upside down when one of them goes missing. On the other side of town, a runaway little girl sporting a crew cut and a hospital gown shows up at a hamburger joint. It’s not long before the CIA shows up, armed, searching for her. The real adventure begins when Will’s closest friends and relatives puzzle-piece their conspiracy theories together, realizing that he’s not only alive, but has been taken by an untraceable monster: the demi-gorgon.

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Being a fan of fantasy and kids being sucked into other worlds, I was immediately addicted to this show. From the first episode, the plot twisted in ways least expected. Whether it was an alien abduction, an alternate dimension, or fantasy world that Will had been trapped inside of, the only way to figure it out was just to KEEP WATCHING. When viewers finally figure out what is going on, everything makes sense, leaving out annoying plot holes or bent fantastical rules.

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#Netflixaddictionisrealguys. Each of the characters were real to me and deliciously hate-able or lovable. It won’t be long before new watchers will find themselves shouting advice to the snarky sheriff with detective abilities rivaling Shawn Spencer (Psych) and the mother who may or may not be going crazy with grief. Some moments in the show were incredibly touching, emphasizing the sweet relationship between mother and child.

ST 3

The child actors were so believable and outshined some of the adult actors out there. For those of you not completely into the alternate dimension plotline, never fear: there is much drama to be had. Romance? Got it. Dysfunctional families and complicated relationships all around? They got that too. I would recommend Stranger Things to anyone aching for adventure. Just make sure to have 8 hours to kill before doing so, because once you begin there’s no way to stop.

All About Us- BYU’s English Society


Do you love literature?

Do you love to read and/or write?

Are you an English Major or Minor?

Are you interested in finding out more about career options with an English Degree?

Are you interested in becoming a part of a community of people with similar interests as you?


If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then you’ve come to the right place! In addition to being a member of a community that loves literature and the English language, the English Society also offers insights to possible career paths, fun activities and social events, guides to surviving life as an English Major, AND SO MUCH MORE!

We are your classmates, friends, and even mentors, with one goal: To make your time here at Brigham Young University the BEST it can be. Whether it is helping you find your place amongst the crowds of people, pointing you in the right direction for success, or opening your mind up to the millions of possibilities and opportunities that are right in front of you- we are here for you! Plus, we will be hosting a Harry Potter (November) and Poe (October) Party this semester, and you don’t want to miss out on the fun!


So what are your waiting for? To get involved come to our OPENING SOCIAL this Thursday, September 15 at 5:00pm for games, food, and fun! We will also be introducing some of our officers as well as offering ways that you can get involved!

The English Society is the BEST Society. So join the fun now!

My Study Abroad Experience

by: Jacquelyn Dunn

JD Study Abroad

I had one objective in mind with my study abroad—make friends with people who had similar interests to mine. This seemed simple enough, especially since it was a Theatre and English study abroad in London, and who doesn’t love plays, books, and Britain? Even so, I was nervous. I’d traveled with groups before and always struggled to find people who I could really relate to. I was searching for people who would discuss ideas with me—people who weren’t afraid to have an opinion and stand up for it.

Luckily, the London Theatre program was full of such people. I was amazed after the first show we went to that everyone came out with outlooks completely different from mine, and they were more than willing to talk about it. Everyone was passionate about what they thought, but also willing to listen to the views of their peers. Pretty much every conversation ended with laughter and no hurt feelings, just expanded perspective and strengthened friendships.

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I remember one particular night after an especially intense production of Richard III. I was pretty shaken up about some of the content of the play and needed to discuss it, so a friend and I made our way to a café that was open late. We started talking about the play, but our conversation soon morphed into a deep discussion about our philosophies on education and family life. We talked for hours and commented multiple times about the fact that we were sitting in a European café while discussing idea, just like hundreds of great minds before us. I remember walking home that night and feeling an overwhelming amount of love for my friend and gratitude for the experiences we were having.

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Throughout the program, I came to consider everyone as a friend, but I was worried that when we all returned home and the magic ended our friendships would dissolve in the rush school, work, and other commitments. We all promised to keep in touch, but how often do people actually keep those kinds of promises? Only the best kinds of people, and fortunately for me, my study abroad friends were the best. Since we were spread out all summer from California to Thailand, we kept up with one another through Facebook messenger. We shared funny videos and memes, talked about articles we were reading, and encouraged each other on almost a daily basis. When we all got back to school this fall our reunion was sweet. We fell right back into our habits of discussion and it was like we were right back in London.

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The people I met on my study abroad experience are some of my favorite humans. They’re brilliant, kind, funny, and supportive; their friendship made the London Theatre Study Abroad the best part of my college experience to date.


Another Successful Slam

Even with drawbacks of hosting on Labor Day Weekend, the crowd at the Wall last Saturday did not fail to impress, with 220 people in attendance. And the performers brought their A-game too!

Many poets recalled adventures over the summer, Eston Dunn talked about his potentially drug-dealing roommates, and Jenny Rollins hit hard at what it actually means to go through divorce. Austin Jones opened strong in defense of English Majors everywhere in a poem that would eventually earn him the title of Best Overall performance of the night.

The entry price for the slam was a total of 17 syllables in the form of a haiku, and 16 people were called up from the audience during half-time for the haiku off. The four winners then went onto a second round at the end of the slam with improvised haikus including the word of the day: Fist-fight.


Special Congratulations to our winners! From left to right: Comedy (Katie Jarvis), Haiku Champion, Romance (David Bates), BestOverall (Austin Jones), and Dark Horse (Anneka Winder)!

If you didn’t get a chance to make it to this slam, be sure to keep your eyes and ears open for the next amazing event!