BYU professor likes heavy metal and horror

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Sederholm with different band members from the Epica, Alestorm, Insomnium, and System Divide tour.
Sederholm with different band members from the Epica, Alestorm, Insomnium, and System Divide tour. (Carl Sederholm)

Carl Sederholm is a BYU humanities professor with a passion for not just American literature but also heavy metal and horror.

Sederholm attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School in California with famous celebrities like Cameron Diaz and Snoop Dogg. Although he never interacted with either on a personal level, he remembers seeing them around the school.

“Cameron Diaz wasn’t an actress yet. She was just a pretty cheerleader that everyone wanted to date and hang out with,” Sederholm said. “My friends and I used to be intimidated by her and say, ‘Hey, there she is,’ and, ‘Isn’t she pretty?’ and wave.”

Sederholm attended UCLA after high school and studied English. In 2002, after getting his doctorate at the University of Utah, he began teaching at BYU. Although the schools are known rivals, several doors opened for Sederholm that led him to a teaching position at BYU he just couldn’t turn down.

Although Sederholm teaches classes about American humanities and literature, his interests span much wider than just history and writing. Many people are unaware of his passion for music, especially heavy metal. The fascination began at the age of 14 and has continued ever since. Although his parents were not fond of it and his mom referred to it as “that awful noise,” he never let that stop him from enjoying it.

“The only time I haven’t listened to it since the age of 14 was on my mission. I listen to it every day. I like the energy of it,” Sederholm said. “The thing about a lot of heavy metal musicians is that they work really hard to play well, and I like their dedication to the craft.”

Megan Clarke, a sophomore from Santa Clara majoring in family and consumer science, took a course from Sederholm and was surprised to find out about this love of heavy metal, especially one band in particular.

“Sederholm absolutely loves Iron Maiden,” Clarke said. “Everything about Dr. Sederholm is interesting.”

Sederholm is also a huge fan of the horror genre. At a young age, Sederholm was exposed to horror when he walked past an advertisement for the movie “Carrie.” Although it initially scared him, he eventually began reading horror novels and developed a deep appreciation for them.

“When I was in graduate school I started reading Stephen King for pleasure. I don’t even know why I picked him. I just wanted to do something different from what I was studying, and I started,” Sederholm said. “I fell in love with it, I guess.”

Sederholm’s colorful background and range of interests have contributed to his unique style of teaching. Many BYU students speak highly of the atmosphere in his classroom and have enjoyed their courses with the professor.

“My favorite thing about his class was his candor. He was open and honest about his feelings and his life. He was also very interested in his students’ success,” said J.D. Williams, an American studies major from West Jordan. “Also, I liked how he treated things like horror and rap as art that can be studied and learned from. That was so interesting to me.”

Clarke enjoyed being taught by Sederholm because of his funny personality and stories but also because of his unique perspective of the humanities.

“I never left class without a smile on my face. Dr. Sederholm is absolutely hilarious. He also is really down to earth and shows his students how to approach art, how to approach literature and how to analyze music from a humanities perspective,” Clarke said. “Rather than just lecturing for an hour, every class was a discussion.”

It’s not only BYU students who have noticed the professor’s positive qualities.

“Students quickly figure out that his high expectations in terms of writing and critical thinking are for their own good. He really wants them to improve and succeed,” said humanities professor Kerry Soper. “He communicates those expectations within a teaching style that is really engaging, funny and intellectually stimulating.”

It’s apparent that Sederholm is open with his students and colleagues and enjoys talking to them about where he came from and what he likes. Williams remembered the cape Sederholm wore to class on Halloween, the one his wife made.

Clarke, on the other hand, knows Sederholm enjoys going to concerts and wonders what he is like at the concerts he attends. In response to this question, Sederholm said his position and attitude changes throughout each performance.

“I usually start out in the front, and I’m up there and engaged. I’m involved, and then I move over to the side and start documenting every moment,” Sederholm said. “I take a camera with me, and I’m usually taking pictures.”

Carl Sederholm is a musician, intellectual and horror fanatic. First and foremost, he is a passionate and dedicated teacher who truly cares about his students.

“I like meeting people and working with students. It’s really that simple,” Sederholm said. “I like talking with students. They’re fun and interesting, and they make every day fun for me.”

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