"My study abroad course follows the path of a group of English Romantic writers."
Weldon often feels she’s an advertisement for following your interests and seeing where they go. “I grew up as an Alabama Methodist farm kid passionately in love with the woods, wildlife, and my rural world,” she says. “Specifically I often sensed there was something magical in the winter sunlight over a field or the whir of quail rising from brush, something divine. I spent hours trying to capture that feeling in words.”
Weldon recognized that authors Wordsworth and Faulkner were trying to do the same thing when she was an undergraduate English major. “I could see how they were using words to identify how a person’s imagination interacts with a beloved place,” she says. “That led me to follow twin paths through graduate school: one, a PhD in British Romanticism with a minor in Southern literature, and two, a self-apprenticeship in creative writing.”
Weldon started writing and publishing fiction and creative nonfiction as she was working on her MA and PhD and editing a literary journal, The Carolina Quarterly. “For better or worse, when a new interest pops up on my intellectual horizon, I try to fold it in with the others and keep them all going together rather than letting one drop out,” she says. “Surprisingly often, though, they mesh, as my recent work in environmental activism and writing shows.”
In the last few years, Weldon has been concerned as a English teacher, writer, and citizen with what she views as an increasing tendency to disengage from our living world and sequester ourselves behind the comfort of our electronic devices. She believes they’re impoverishing us and our ecology, and enriching major corporations, in more ways than we can see.
“To explore actions we can use against that, I wrote a book called The Hands-On Life: How to Wake Yourself Up and Save The World,” she says. Her article “Attentional Commons and the Common Good: Technology and Lutheran Higher Education,” is a digest of that book and is coming out in Intersections. She also wrote a recent post for Luther’s Ideas and Creations blog on this topic.
Weldon’s January Term study abroad course follows the path of a group of English Romantic writers including Mary and Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Keats, and others through London, Geneva, Venice, Florence, and Rome.
“Our course texts are Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Daisy Hay’s wonderful group biography Young Romantics,” she says. “Some highlights include reading aloud the passage where Victor meets the Creature on the Mer de Glace (sea of ice) in the Alps as we are standing looking down at the glacier’s surface. We also see Lord Byron's name scratched on the classroom wall at Harrow School, where Byron, like Winston Churchill and Benedict Cumberbatch, is an ‘old boy.’ We’re all moved to tears in the boardinghouse room where John Keats died, above the Spanish Steps in Rome. And we stand in front of Botticelli’s Primavera in the Uffizi Gallery for what feels like hours and we wander through the wonderful maze of Venice. Throughout the course, we feel the presence of the past close by with its arm around our shoulders, and as informal as a friend.”
“In addition to being a teacher, advisor, and writer, I’m the chair of the Faculty Organization Committee which is concurrent with a three-year term as chair of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division,” Weldon says, “I also advise Luther’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the national English major honor society.
This means I get to travel with students to the conference in a different city every year and hear them read their wonderful work to an audience from all over the world.”
I worked as a journalist and advertising copywriter before entering graduate school. Both were valuable professional experiences.