Associate Professor of Great Texts and Creative Writing
- Professional Program in Screenwriting, UCLA
- Ph.D., Princeton University
- M.A., Princeton University
- Dipl., Ecole Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Lyons
- B.A., Auburn University
- Medieval Manuscripts and Technologies
- Story Theory
- Screenwriting, Short Stories and Creative Writing
Bio and Research Interests
Sarah Jane (SJ) Murray is an Irish-born academic and EMMY-nominated and award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker. She is also known for researching how story design principles apply to corporate and not-for-profit brand and impact strategy, and has won numerous creative awards for story-driven content and video-based impact campaigns, including bronze and silver TELLY awards, communicator awards of excellence, and the communicator award of distinction.
Born in Ireland, she graduated from Auburn University with a BA in French and Philosophy, and studied at the École normale supérieure de lettres et sciences humaines in Lyon before earning her MA and PhD from Princeton University. Murray is also a graduate of the UCLA professional program in screenwriting, where she studied under Chairman Richard Walter. She is the author of From Plato to Lancelot: A Preface to Chretien de Troyes (Syracuse UP, 2008) and Basics of Story Design (Anderimage, 2016). She teaches great texts and film making at Baylor University as an "Associate Professor of Great Texts and Creative Writing."
In recent years, Murray's research has focused on the art of storytelling and the importance of story in shaping culture. This led to her widely-viewed 2014 TEDx talks (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrtTyEmDLKQ) on insanely great storytelling in San Antonio and storytelling ethics (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_iQ-NSwgMM) in Santa Cruz in 2015. Murray's interest in storytelling spans from the films and VR experiences of the 21st century all the way back to the origins. In 2011, she was awarded a major grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) to translate the Ovide moralisé, an important cultural story of the Middle Ages (first volume expected publication Spring 2018).
Murray serves as co-chair of the Working group on Film, Media & Storytelling for the Nexus Global Summit and is a member of Summit Series. She was inducted into the WGA, West non-fiction writers caucus in November 2016.
Books & Articles
- Basics of Story Design: Twenty Steps to an Insanely Great Screenplay (Anderimage, 2017. In press.). This book and the corresponding augmented online course (also released by Anderimage) guide first-time and veteran writers through the principles of story design, that ensure the integrity, success and marketability of their story.
- Selected Tales from the Ovide Moralisé (2018. In preparation for press.) This book represents the first step in the culmination of Dr. Murray’s NEH-funded translation project, providing the first full-length English (and modern language) translation of the Ovide moralisé.
- From Plato to Lancelot: A Preface to Chrétien de Troyes (Syracuse University Press, 2008). This book explores the origins of vernacular storytelling in twelfth-century France. Focusing on the influence of the Timaeus and the mission of the Myth of Atlantis in particular "that storytellers preserve history, and story, by committing oral tales to writing" the book examines the convergence of classical and Celtic sources in the Arthurian romances of Chrétien de Troyes.
- Dr. Murray is also the author of over twenty peer-reviewed articles.