Central Penn College - Brant W. Ellsworth, PhD

Central Penn College


Faculty Who Care

Brant W. Ellsworth, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Humanities

Academic Bio

Brant Ellsworth is an Assistant Professor of Humanities in the School of Humanities and Sciences. He received his doctorate from Penn State Harrisburg in American Studies with a dissertation that examined the role of Western mythology in the Americanization process of Mormons during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His article, "The Sacred and Supernatural: Mormon Missionary Memorates of Dissuasive Spiritual Intervention," is currently under review at the Folklore Historian, and his award-winning article, "Playing for Change: The Performative Functions of Children's Piano Play" was published in the Children's Folklore Review. Furthermore, Brant has published encyclopedia articles on a variety of topics including on John Hope Franklin, Olympic Games, Native American Youth Groups, and Mormons. He has also published book reviews and presented scholarship at national conferences of American Studies, Folklore, and Mormon history. 

Brant currently serves as the editor for the Children's Folklore Review, which regularly publishes articles on all aspects of children's traditions. He also serves as the Vice President of the Eastern American Studies Association.

Personal Bio

My wife and I are the proud parents of three children who amaze us with their love of learning, athleticism, and kindness. I grew up in a military home and as such moved frequently. By the age of 15, I had visited all of the lower 48 contiguous states. I love Thai food, kimchi, and ginger beer and have a serious obsession with ice cream. I am an avid reader and podcaster and am always looking for a recommendation. I love sports, especially basketball, and will gladly debate anyone on the merits of Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. I've learned to embrace my inner-nerd and proudly confess to being a fan of board games and watching others play MOBAs. The closest I've ever come to fame was being a contestant on the Price is Right. Ask me about it, I love to tell the story.

Teaching Philosophy

When I was a sophomore in college, a college professor who loved the humanities taught with a passion, a charisma, an enthusiasm that was infectious. It sparked in me an interest in the arts that pushed me onto the trail of academia. I promise my students the same level of enthusiasm and love of learning as my professor provided me. And I deliver. The most common adjective used to describe me as an instructor by students is “enthusiastic.” And while I hope my enthusiasm is infectious and leads others along a similar path of life-long learning, I have learned through the years that teaching is more than a style. It is more than an emotional bond. It is more than the content—though these are all important. 

Today, I believe my teaching is most effective when I couple my enthusiasm with an energy focused almost entirely on the process of learning and thinking. In other words, I am not looking for discipline disciples. I want to help students be able to read and think critically, to interpret complex ideas, and to express their ideas clearly. The course topic is the platform to help students develop these skills. 


Doctorate of Philosophy in American Studies

  • Doctorate of Philosophy in American Studies
  • Masters of Arts in American Studies - Penn State Harrisburg '09
  • Bachelor of Arts in American Studies - Brigham Young University '06

Courses & Subjects

  • African-American History
  • American Civil War 
  • Ethics
  • Global Conflict
  • US History to 1865
  • US History since 1865


  • Charles Redd Fellowship Award in Western American History, Charles Redd Center, Brigham Young University - 2014
  • Louise E. Hoffman Memorial Adjunct Teaching Award, Penn State Harrisburg - 2014
  • W. W. Newell Prize, Best Graduate Student essay on a topic in children's folklore, American Folklore Society - 2013
  • Simon J. Bronner Award for Outstanding Graduate Paper in American Studies - Honorable Mention, Eastern American Studies Association - 2012
  • Pennsylvania State University Graduate Fellowship, Penn State Harrisburg 2010-12
  • University Graduate Assistantship, Penn State Harrisburg, 2007-08
  • Irwin Richman Scholarship in American Studies, Penn State Harrisburg, 2007


  • Certificate in Ethnography and Folklore, Pennsylvania State Harrisburg - '15