Tag Archives: Writing

My Story Episode 20: Harry Potter and Pedagogy



Episode 20 of the BYU English Society’s podcast, My Story, features Nicole Westenskow, Whitney Sommerville, Tyler McCombs, and Stephen Nothum. This dynamic team of English Teaching Majors came together a few years back as a unsettled group BYU students. After doing their time at the university they are all now teaching full time here in Utah, and have made themselves known to the world for their unique achievements while here at BYU. In this episode the groups shares with us their unique pathway to the English Teaching Major, and highlights their experience while conducting research on Harry Potter and Pedagogy (for those of you who don’t know, that means teaching methods). This episode is a must listen for all of those Harry Potter fans, English Teaching hopefuls, and anyone else who wants to know a whole lot about what it means to be an English Major. Play the podcast embedded below, and check out all of our awesome episodes featuring stories on how to apply your English by visiting the BYU English Society SoundCloud page.

Check out the interview HERE

My Story Episode: Lindsay Owens, Digital Humanities Minor


Episode 16 of the BYU English Society’s podcast, My Story, features Lindsay Owens, an English Major with a Minor in the Digital Humanities. Lindsay has always had a passion for writing and creating websites so she decided that she would combine the two and make her dreams a reality. When she faced opposition as she studied programming she decided to change to print and web publishing. As a result of her Digital Humanities Minor she added two more minors one in Graphic Design and another in Creative Writing. Lindsay is taking on the world of web design one print publish at time, and showing the skills that the English Major has given her. With the approach of graduation Lindsay is excited to explore the world of digital humanities even more, and she invites you to do the same! Play the podcast embedded above, and please check out all our episodes featuring stories about how to apply your English Major by visiting the BYU English Society SoundCloud page.

Lindsay’s Interview

Writing a Thesis Statement

The following is a sort of “advice column” from the Writing Center that gives some writing tips for academic papers.

In high school you might have learned to write essays with five paragraphs: one to introduce your thesis, three to argue it, and one to conclude it. Writing at the collegiate level, however, rarely allows for such a rigid formula. Depending on the complexity and depth of your assignment, you might have to provide more than just evidence for your thesis. You may have to contextualize it, challenge its counterarguments, offer solutions—things that could employ any number of paragraphs, not just five.

A strong thesis can help you avoid formulaic writing and effectively communicate with your audience. The more you learn about the purpose, definition, and technique of thesis statements, the stronger your theses will become, and the more your subsequent skills of organization, technique, and style will improve.

A thesis defines the scope of a piece of writing, the limits of what material your work will cover. It helps readers understand what to look for as they read, and it can help keep you from digressing as you write. Additionally, a thesis gives the writing energy, a sense of forward motion, which captivates your readers and leads them through each paragraph to the conclusion.

Your job in researching a topic is to compile observations, which are deductive statements about the facts that you discover. You may conclude something like:

“Julius Caesar was a tyrant.”

While this opinion is useful in beginning your writing, it’s difficult to sustain strong academic writing on such a one-dimensional idea. A strong thesis combines observations with perspective. As you collect your observations, ask yourself what factors might have caused the conditions of your observation or what implications your observation might lead to. You might posit something like

“Julius Caesar’s experience in the military cultured his tyrannical behavior.”

A perspective like this adds dimension to your writing, which will ultimately make it more reasonable and engaging.

Strong theses also employ concrete words, which reference particular, explicit ideas. Words like “Julius Caesar,” “aggressive,” “establishment,” and “dictator” are specific enough to form a coherent concept and keep your reader from getting confused. With more concrete words, a thesis might look something like this:

“Julius Caesar’s aggressive leadership at the Battle of Alesia led to his establishment as a dictator.”

Try to think of your thesis from an unbiased perspective. Have you considered all the implications of your argument? What would someone who disagrees with you have to say? The strongest theses do not ignore their counterarguments, but confront them openly. They inspire opposing points of discussion, rather than put them down.

Developing these advanced strategies might seem overwhelming, but practicing them as much as you can will improve your writing in the long run. If you ever need help, come talk to a Writing Center tutor.

Ben Grange

I’m a writer, an amateur composer, a husband and father, and I’m an English Major.

Ben Grange

Me and my wife on the Provo River trail.

I decided to be an English major to help my writing. I love to write young adult contemporary fiction and fantasy. As an English major, I’ve explored many other avenues of writing, and I’ve come across many inspirational texts that have generated thousands of ideas in my mind. As a creative person, completing a major which is highly analytic has molded my brain to be a critic of my own work. This analytical mind set has transferred to multiple facets of my life, some of which include my career path, my music composition, my writing, my artwork, and my family. It’s made me a rounder individual, more dimensional, and more intellectual.

I’ve been an English major for the last two years. My career path changed from “”I don’t know what I want to do,”” to “”I want to go into children’s and young adult book publishing”” in that time. Through opportunities opened to me through the school, I’ve done four internships in the publishing world, which has prepared me to go on after graduation and get a job in a competitive field. Becoming an English Major was the best thing I could have done, and I’m so glad I did it.

One of my favorite books is Harry Potter.


Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie-T7Ttchjs&list=UUXqN-BQSOQ_QBAlSnhGMP8w

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ben_l_grange

Hi, I’m Madeline Olsen

I’m a chocolate connoisseur, a David Bowie lover, and a fantasy novel junkie. And I’m an English major.

Maddie Olsen


My love for books was a sudden development. I can see my kindergarten self struggling over We’re Going On A Bear Hunt, wondering what on earth my teacher meant by “sound out the words,” and frankly hating the concept of reading in general. I wanted to give up and probably would have had my mom not insisted I continue. She forced me through picture book after picture book, and with each one I declared that I would never like reading on my own. One day, however, something changed. I opened up a book and the strange marks that decorated the pages weren’t just strange marks anymore–they were words. A new world was unlocked to me, and, in that instant, what had been hatred turned into a deep, unfailing love. That love, though it wasn’t love at first sight, is still burning today, getting stronger with each book I read and story I write.

One of my favorite works of literature is Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.


Hi, I’m Courtney Green.

I’m a hiker, an army brat, a beach bum, and a lover of classic literature. And I’m an English major.

Courtney Green

Having lunch at Hooper Springs, a hometown hangout.

I have always had a strong passion for books and reading. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve known that whatever I’m going to do in this life, it has to do with reading. Of course, back when I was younger, that desire was limited to “I’m going to grow up and read books all day, every day and live with mommy and daddy!” As I’ve grown older, while my love for all books hasn’t decreased, I’ve grown more attached to classic literature. I read Pride and Prejudice in Eighth Grade and completely fell in love with that era. They just had a certain way of writing and expressing themselves that I feel has been lost over time. I spend almost every free moment I have reading and rereading these amazing novels that have shaped my high school years. Someday, I hope to go out there and discover those amazing novels out there and bring them to light!

One of my favorite books is Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson.

Find me on Facebook.

Hello, I’m Erin Nightingale

I’m a musician, a composer, a novelist, a poet, a book lover, an onomast . . . and I’m an English Major.

Really, I don’t know where I’d be without writing. I am blind, but when I was younger I could see better, and back then I considered myself an artist. I was constantly drawing, painting, and sculpting. I was fairly certain that art would be in my future. But I lost most of my sight when I was ten years old, and could no longer see to draw. Therefore, I had to find new ways of doing art. I taught myself how to play the piano, and have been composing music for eight years. But this wasn’t enough. Soon I discovered the world of words, and began writing poems and novels. I have six completed novels and over thirty poems to date. I’ve been told that my writing style is very colorful. Another one of my loves is teaching. I m studying currently to become an English teacher. It is in this way that art, in one form or another, has made it into my future, and will continue to be a vital part of what makes me me forever.

One of my favorite books is Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.