The Words

Reflections on Remote Learning

Dalton Greene ’22

Professor Elkins headshot
Professor Elkins

For the Macalester community, the Fall 2020 semester has looked very different from what anyone is used to. From the shift toward remote learning to the introduction of a 7.5 week module system, students and faculty alike have had to develop new approaches to make the most of this unusual time. Professors in the English department have worked hard to take bold and dynamic new approaches to their teaching, and Assistant Professor of English Amy Elkins has been particularly mindful of the unique opportunities this semester has brought with it. I recently had the opportunity to interview Professor Elkins about how her teaching has been going this semester and some of the wisdom she’s picked up along the way. Read about some of her reflections here…

Comedy and God: The Book Launch of Rachel Gold’s Synclair

Malcolm Cooke ’21

Cover of Synclair

The two big topics Professor Rachel Gold ’93 wanted to explore in their new queer coming of age novel Synclair were “comedy and God.”

Synclair tells the story of Emma Synclair (who goes by her last name) a 17-year-old girl who is “very probably lesbian but you know, you may not have that all worked out at 17,” as Gold puts it. Synclair’s parents are devout atheists who actively discourage her from exploring anything spiritual or religious. But when they leave the country house for the summer, she is finally able to explore her spirituality freely. Throughout the book, she encounters a variety of spiritual traditions, from Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, to Wicca and Judaism. But she also faces some hurdles when “She runs into an old friend of hers from grade school who has grown up to be hot and also queer which complicates the spiritual search a great deal,” Gold said. Read more about Gold’s book and its virtual launch event here…

Tales from a First Year in Quarantine

Chloe Moore ’24

Chloe moore in the english office
Chole Moore in the English office

Move-in day was sunny and warm—not at all representative of general Minnesota weather trends. Settling into my dorm was a new beginning, under very complicated circumstances. There was the thrill of a new space, of living alone (my sister and I shared bunk beds for most of my life), of hanging up my art and posters and making a Dupre double into a new kind of home. The first few days of existing on campus, before classes started, felt more like summer camp than anything else, with amoebic circles of people forming on the lawns, talking a little too loudly to hear each other through masks. Once classes started, it started to settle in that this wasn’t a normal experience. As a first year, I had no previous college experience to which I could compare this newfangled kind of learning. Mostly, I was just excited to be on campus, taking absolutely no math classes, and not spending 7 hours of every day in class. Read more about Chloe’s experience here…

A Very English Podcast

Kira Schukar ’22

The English Department Podcasting team met for the first time in early November. At 11:30, the group of office workers and newsletter editors opened the meeting, the sun shining in the background of everyone’s respective rooms.

Anna Chu ‘22 and Hilary Kaufman ‘23, two student workers who are co-producing the podcast, directed everyone to a meeting agenda on a Google Doc.

“I shared a Google Doc with some ideas and outlines,” said Anna. “Everyone can put their name under one of the roles at the bottom of the page.” Read more about the podcast here…

New Spring Course Offerings

Alice Asch ’22

Old main humanities building

For literature and creative writing enthusiasts, Macalester has a gorgeous array of courses in store for next semester, many of which are being offered for the first time this spring. With subjects ranging from artistic muses to Afrofuturism to young adult fiction, these classes are sure to captivate. The Words has decided to profile a few of the English department’s brand new listings. Read about them here…


Teddy Holt ’22

This month at The Words, we are joyously celebrating the writing of our very own Rachel Warshaw ‘22. Rachel is an English Literature major with a Theater minor who is from Seattle, WA and who transferred to Macalester from Augsburg University in 2019. When I asked about her fascinations in writing, she told me she writes about the “Triple G”—ghosts, grandmas, and gay people; elaborating on this, she said she, “loves history that tangibly interacts with the present,” and she “believes in giving that history a chance to speak for itself.” Much of her writing is inspired by theater and classic literature, especially Shakespeare—being a Literature major helps her solidify that context while allowing her to use it creatively in ways that feel less draining than writing for a class might. We hope you enjoy “the devil goes down” and “heaven, or the promised land”! Read them here…