ENGL 4950: Senior Seminar

Fall 2013


According to UVU's course catalog, this course forms the culmination of English courses and as such is designed to explore the value and relevance of an English degree. It further professionalizes students by assisting them with career or graduate school preparation. Overall, the course offers students the opportunity to reflect on their major and to optimize writing and communication skills. It includes revision of an existing paper as a scholarly writing sample and creation of a professional portfolio to display knowledge and abilities.


Course Objectives

PROFESSOR: Christa Albrecht-Crane, Ph.D.


OFFICE HOURS: MW 12-1 and by appointment

OFFICE PHONE: 801.863.6286

EMAIL: christaa@uvu.edu

By the end of the course students will:

  1. make and know their own arguments for the relevance of literature in English and English majors in contemporary society

  2. reflect and explore professional aspirations

  3. strategize ways of entering the careers of their choice

  4. increase confidence in their ability to present themselves professionally both orally and in writing

  5. prepare a professional application package to submit to job searches or graduate school applications

  6. prepare and submit a comprehensive senior portfolio for departmental assessment purposes

Overall, this course serves as the culmination of students' efforts and work as English Majors in the department. It thus presents an opportunity to reflect on and analyze one's engagements with English language and literatures over the course of study. I do not want the course to ask students to complete meaningless busy work but want to rather emphasize that a major in English is a dynamic experience in which students and teachers create genuine learning communities that engage with questions about literature, texts, the profession, and life at large. So, while this class does require that students complete and submit a set of rather standard assignments, it also strives to embody and maintain part of the excitement and real curiosity that originally drew all of us into the discipline of English.

Course Goals

Please download and print out the following articles (pdf files included below):

  1. Brown, Kevin. “What Can They Do with an English Major?” College English Association Forum 38.2 (2009): n. pag. Web. 20 Sept 2011. Web link.

  1. Birkenstein, Cathy. “We Got the Wrong Gal: Rethinking the ‘Bad’ Academic Writing of Judith Butler.” College English 72.3 (Jan 2010): 269-283. Print. Birkenstein.pdf

  1. Bruland, Holly H. “Rhetorical Cues and Cultural Clues: An Analysis of the Recommendation Letter in English Studies.” Rhetorical Review 28.4 (2009): 406-424. Print. Bruland.pdf

  1. Crosby, Christina. “Why Major in Literature--What Do We Tell Our Students?” PMLA 117.3 (May 2002): 493-495. Crosby.pdf

  1. DeGalan, Julie and Stephen Lambert. Great Jobs for English Majors. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw Hill, 2006. Print.

  2. General (Introduction and first chapters) DeGalanGeneral.pdf

  3. Path 1: Writing, Editing, and Publishing DeGalanPath1.pdf

  4. Path 2: Teaching DeGalanPath2.pdf

  5. Path 3: Advertising and Public Relations DeGalanPath3.pdf

  6. Path 4: Business Administration and Management DeGalanPath4.pdf

  7. Path 5: Technical Writing DeGalanPath5.pdf

  8. Dunn, Daniel M. and Lisa J. Goodnight. "Interviewing." Communication: Embracing Difference. 3rd Ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2011. 145-167. Print. Dunn.pdf

  1. Gessen, Keith. “Money.” N+1 Magazine.com. 12 Mar 2006. Web. 22 Aug 2013. Gessen.pdf

  1. Haynie, Aeron. “Across the Great Divide: Teaching in Rural Montana and Beyond.” Academic Cultures: Professional Preparation and the Teaching Life. Sean P. Murphy, ed. New York: MLA, 2008. 39-50. Haynie.pdf

  1. Hitt, Jack. “Words on Trial: Can Linguistics Solve Crimes That Stump the Police?” The New Yorker 23 July, 2012. Print. Hitt.pdf

  1. Klein, Richard. “The Future of Literary Criticism.” PMLA 125.4 (2010): 920-923. Print. Klein.pdf

  1. Lahiri, Jhumpa. “Trading Stories: Notes from an Apprenticeship.” The New Yorker 13 & 20 June, 2011: 78-83. Print. LahiriStories.pdf

  1. LeGuin, Ursula K. “Staying Awake: Notes on the Alleged Decline of Reading.” Harper’s Magazine Feb. 2008: 33-38. Print. Le Guin.pdf

  1. Markel, Mike. "Preparing Job Application Materials." Technical Communication. 9th Ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins. 2010. 389-430. Print. Markel.pdf

  1. Menand, Louis. “Live and Learn: Why We Have College.” The New Yorker 6 June 2011: 74-79. Print. MenandCollege.pdf

  1. Menand, Louis. “Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing be Taught?” The New Yorker 8 June 2009. Web. 2 July 2013. MenandShow.pdf

  1. Orwell, George. “Politics and the English Language.” OrwellPoliticsLanguage.pdf

  1. Pratt, Linda Ray. “The Financial Landscape of Higher Education: Mapping the Rough Road Ahead.” Profession 2010. The Modern Language Association of America: 131-140. Print. Pratt.pdf

  1. Reiner, Jon. “Live First, Write Later: The Case for Less Creative-Writing Schooling.” The Atlantic.com. 9 Apr 2013. Web. 22 Aug 2013. Reiner.pdf

  1. Slouka, Mark. “Dehumanized: When Math and Science Rule the School.” Harpers Magazine Sept. 2009: 32-40.  Slouka.pdf

  1. Wilson, Robin. “Master’s in English: Will Mow Lawns.” Chronicle of Higher Education 57.15 (2010): A1. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 2 July 2012. Wilson.pdf

Required Texts:


Your grade in this course consists of the following components:


Attendance is mandatory. Small group activities and class discussion will be emphasized. Research shows that what occurs during class is an important part of the learning process so your attendance is necessary. If you miss class, you need to talk to a classmate or two and get their notes, then talk to me if you have specific questions about what we covered. Excessive absences (more than three) will lower your participation grade. Missing more than five classes will result in your failure of the class. Attendance will be taken at the start of every class period, and late arrivals and early departures will count against you.

Our class sessions will be structured almost exclusively around discussions. It will be more enjoyable for all of us (and you’ll do better) if you (1) attend class regularly, (2) do the required reading, and (3) be prepared to discuss what you’ve read. 

In this course you are expected to be an active learner and to take responsibility for your work. You should contribute meaningfully to our discussions on a daily basis. Your participation will be affected if you miss class. Consider that a good participation grade reflects consistent active participation throughout the semester. “Heaping up” participation efforts one week in order to make up for low participation at other times will not help your overall score. In order to encourage as much participation from as many students as possible, I will make every effort to ensure that as many people as possible get to be heard during our class discussions.

Please be advised that this component of the course is quite important and that I take it very seriously. I strongly discourage “fluff” contributions and disruptions. I reserve the right to penalize students who, in my judgment, make repeated and obvious efforts to undermine quality discussion and/or to bolster their participation score with irrelevant comments.

MIssed work/Late work/Extra credit

No late work; no make-up work; no extra credit.

Classroom Etiquette

Cell phones are to be turned off before you come to class. Refrain from using your cell phone for text messaging at all times while you're in class. In addition, please do not use laptop computers at any time during class. Class members should treat each other with respect and a productive attitude.

Students with Disabilities

If you have any disability that may impair your ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the UVU Accessibility Services Department (LC 312, www.uvu.edu/asd/; 863-8747). Academic accommodations are granted for all students who have qualified documented disabilities.  Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the Accessibility Services Department.

Academic Honesty

The Statement from UVU's “Students’ Rights and Responsibilities Code“ reads: “Each student is expected to maintain academic ethics and avoid dishonesty in all its forms, including but not limited to, cheating and plagiarism, and fabrication as defined hereafter.”

With respect to this particular class plagiarism refers to knowingly copying another person’s work or ideas and calling them one’s own or not giving proper credit or citation. This covers copying sections or entire papers from printed or electronic sources as well as handing in papers written by students for other classes or purchasing academic papers.  Plagiarism and cheating are not only dishonest but they cheat you out of learning. You must submit your own work in this course.


In general, I will begin class by asking students to write a short quiz in response to a question that relates to the class reading for the day. I use these quizzes as warm-up exercises for class discussion as well as mild encouragements for completing the reading outside of class. Class discussion is so much richer and more interesting when students do their reading for class.

Each quiz will be worth 5 points and at the end of the semester I use the total quiz points and each student’s participation efforts to determine the quiz/participation portion of the final grade. Quizzes cannot be made up when students miss class or come to class late.