Amy Weldon

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Professor of English

Office: Main 603A

Phone: 563-387-2224

Email: Send Email

Biography

Education: Ph.D, M.A., English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; B.A., English and Journalism, Auburn University

An Alabama native, Professor Amy Weldon teaches creative writing, British Romanticism, Paideia, study-abroad, and more at Luther College, where she codirects the Luther College Writers Festival. She’s the author of The Hands-On Life: How to Wake Yourself Up and Save the World (2018), The Writer’s Eye: Observation and Inspiration for Creative Writers (2018), and Eldorado, Iowa: A Novel (2019). Recently, she completed Creature: A Novel of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein. Her fourth book, Advanced Fiction Writing: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology – featuring Luther students’ short stories and their thoughts on the process, alongside such writers as Angela Carter, Tobias Wolff, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Jorge Luis Borges and some practical career and publishing advice – is forthcoming from Bloomsbury Academic in January 2023.

Dr. Weldon is a passionate teacher who’s inspired by writing, reading, and traveling with students. Since 2013, she’s led “In Frankenstein’s Footsteps: The Keats-Shelley Circle in London, Geneva, and Italy,” and in Spring 2019, she directed the London portion of the Associated Colleges of the Midwest’s (ACM’s) semester-long “London and Florence: Arts in Context” program. Following an unexpected reboot to an on-campus format in January 2022, her course “English Monsters: From Frankenstein to Big Brother” is now rescheduled for January 2023 in London, York, Haworth, and Whitby (UK).

Dr. Weldon’s fiction, creative nonfiction, reviews, and scholarly and pedagogical essays have appeared in a variety of journals, including Vala: The Journal of the Blake Society, OrionThe Common, About Place, Keats-Shelley Journal, Midwestern Gothic, The Hopper, Bloom, The Millions, Los Angeles Review of Books, Journal of the Short Story in EnglishThe Chronicle of Higher Education, The Carolina Quarterly, Thumbnail, and Inch. Her work can also be found in edited collections including Teaching the Works of Eudora Welty: Twenty-first Century ApproachesEngaging the Age of Jane Austen: Public Humanities in PracticeFracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America William Faulkner: Critical PerspectivesThe Best Travel Writing 2012, and Cornbread Nation: The Best of Southern Food Writing, Vol. 2.  She has been a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference and a participant in the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference.

Beyond the page and the classroom, Dr. Weldon can usually be found gardening, cooking, or enjoying a good film.

“I describe my own goals with two interrelated Teaching Verbs: destabilize and rebuild. They aren’t what I do to students—they are what I help students do with their own assumptions, ideas, and skills.”

—Amy Weldon

Visit Professor Weldon’s personal website

ENG 485 A Faulkner

William Faulkner (1897-1962, winner of the 1950 Nobel Prize for Literature) claimed that “in the South, the past in never gone—it’s not even past.” Neither is Faulkner himself, considering the long shadow he still casts over American (especially Southern) literature. Beginning with two of his major novels, THE SOUND AND THE FURY and ABSALOM, ABSALOM!, we’ll investigate Faulkner’s work, legacy, and influence, exploring such questions as these: What makes this writer so influential? What does “influence” mean, anyway? What are the origins, obstacles, and purposes of literary style? How and why do writers respond to one another’s work, to place, to history, to a common literary heritage, to gaps between their chosen medium (written words) and what they attempt to render through that medium? What happens to familiar Faulknerian themes like race, class, the nature of consciousness, the nature of time, changing social mores, history, and memory in different hands? Additional authors will include Walker Percy, Jayne Anne Phillips, Toni Morrison, and Cormac McCarthy.

ENG 312 A Creative Writing: Poet & Fiction II

An advanced-level course in the writing of poems and stories for students dedicated to making imaginative, emotional, and technical discoveries in the practice of their craft. Readings in contemporary poetry and fiction, as well as in-class exercises and student workshops.

ENG 239 A In Frankenstein’s Footstep

Mary Shelley composed her famous novel Frankenstein (1816) amid a whirlwind of personal turmoil, important friendships, and significant travel. This course will retrace the path of her journeys from childhood to Frankenstein, visiting sites associated with her and her circle – including John Keats, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron – in London, Switzerland, and Italy, as we investigate the relationships between an author’s historical and imaginative realities.

  • Ph.D., English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2005
    Dissertation: “Reasonable Bodies: Enlightened Dissent and the Feminine in Mary Wollstonecraft, Anna Letitia Barbauld, and Mary Hays.”
  • M.A., English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1999
  • B.A., English and Journalism, Auburn University, 1996

Review-Essays

For Bloom, where I am a staff writer:

Cross-published at The Millions:
Private Lives, Artful Truths: Joan Chase’s Midwestern Eden.”
“Growing Into Compassion: On Anna Sewell and Black Beauty.”
“Sybille Bedford: Resilience and Grace.”
“Collateral Gifts: The Poetry and Journey of Spencer Reece.”
Abigail Thomas: Accidentally Deliberate.”
“Diana Athill: The Sufficient Self.”

For Los Angeles Review of Books:

“The Weird Sisters.” [Print Edition.]
Belle Dame Sans Merci: On Angela Carter.” [Online Edition].

Creative Nonfiction

In edited collections:

“A Miniature Handbook for New Women Activists.” Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on
Fracking in America (Ice Cube Press, 2015.)
“The Fruits of Memory.” Southern Cultures
Reprinted in Cornbread Nation 2: The Best of Southern Food Writing, ed. John
Egerton. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
“Traveling to Mary.” The Best Travel Writing, Vol 9, ed. Tim Cahill.  San Francisco: Solas
Press, 2012: 156-175.

In journals:

“The Spinning Self: Pottery and the Rest of My Life.” Bloom.
Spiral.” A River & Sound Review (http://www.riverandsoundreview.org).
“The Odd Girls: Flannery O’Connor and Me.” Shenandoah.
“Notes on a Flood.” Inspire(d) Magazine.
“Dreaming of Eudora.” The South Carolina Review.

Short Fiction

“Wrestling the Angel.” Inch (Spring 2015).
“Misfit.” Thumbnail Magazine.
Burning Lou.” Fiction Southeast (http://fictionsoutheast.com).
“Fairhope.” The Carolina Quarterly.
“Mansions.” O. Henry Festival Stories 2005.
“Explosions.” North Carolina Literary Review.
“Traveling Grace.” Yemassee.
“Wonders.” StoryQuarterly.
“Praying for Ruth.” The Carolina Quarterly.

Scholarly and Pedagogical Essays

“Hurling Yourself Against the Beautiful: Faulkner and Creativity.”  In William Faulkner:
Critical Insights, ed. Kathryn S. Artuso (Salem Press, 2013).
Review of Daisy Hay’s Young Romantics (Keats-Shelley Journal, 2011.)

“Larry Brown,” “Samuel Minturn Peck,” and “Hollis Summers.” Invited entries in updated
edition of Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary, eds. Joseph Flora and
Amber Vogel. Louisiana State University Press, 2006.
“‘The Common Gifts of Heaven’: Animals and Moral Education in Anna Letitia Barbauld’s
‘The Mouse’s Petition’ and ‘The Caterpillar.’” Cardiff Corvey: Reading the Romantic
Text 8 (June 2002).  Online. Internet. <http://www.cf.ac.uk/encap/corvey/articles
cc08_n02.html>. 26 paragraphs.  Journal title changed in 2005 to Romantic
Textualities: Literature and Print Culture 1780-1840; article available at
http://www.romtext.org.uk/articles/cc08_n02/.
“‘When Fantasy Meant Survival’: Writing, Class, and the Oral Tradition in the
Autobiographies of Rick Bragg and Harry Crews.” The Mississippi Quarterly LIII:1
(Winter 1999-2000): 89-110.

Other Writing

Regular postings at Luther College “Ideas and Creations” Faculty Blog

Writing Sample

My short-short story “Fairhope,” in The Carolina Quarterly, Spring 2006

Selected Professional Activities

Bread Loaf/Orion Environmental Writers Conference
Bread Loaf Writers Conference
Tin House Summer Writers Workshop
Sewanee Writers Conference (Tennessee Williams Scholar)
Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference
Auburn University Writers’ Conference (as a faculty member)

Selected Campus Projects/Governance Work

Founder and co-organizer, annual Luther College Faculty Research Symposium
Faculty sponsor, Sigma Tau Delta (English honor society)
Chair, Humanities and Fine Arts Division (2014-2017)
Chair, Faculty Organization Committee (2015-2016)
Member, Faculty Organization Committee (2014-2017)

“Fairhope” in The Carolina Quarterly, Spring 2006

The walls crack and in the attic light feet skitter, but still I wait and listen for the voice this house has yet to yield. On the second floor of three, around one up-curve of the spiral stair—the only one in Alabama like it, built by slaves, so says my plaque—are still my husband’s books, his shirts folded flat as shrouds, his ordination in a wooden frame, and, alone in a drawer, his glass-vialed splinter of the Cross. He carried it through all the wars. The boys reached from their cots to clutch it as he leaned in close to listen and whisper, with them, prayers. I told him he’d been cheated, but he wouldn’t listen. There were always wars and always soldiers dying. Always voices calling him away. You’ll see me soon, he told me. Who knows me anymore except this house, and what lives here with me? Its name is Fairhope, says the plaque. Nobody speaks its name, or mine, here anymore. Not even he.

I’m still here, without him, straight west from Selma, where the highway dissolves into dreaming cotton towns and hills that roll as gently as the narrow chests of graves. Log trucks roar along the blacktop at the bottom of the hill. There was a battle here late in the war. By that time, the men were out of bullets and snuck out of the woods at night to strangle sentries. The gray cloth had run out, too, and their wives made uniforms from the rags of their own skirts, stained brown with leaves. The blood is brown now, on the floorboards of the house’s foyer, where the other women nursed them, where my husband fell. It never washes out. All of us, we wait on men. They twist and moan, they pray and bleed and die. They curse and call to one another and they look at us with bewildered open eyes. Outside, the horses scream. Our husbands’ bodies are no longer ours.

And when they leave, we learn to get along. Pick sheep’s sorrel for soup. Club rabbits. Last week I found a rattlesnake in the yard. Big female one. You know her by the smell: thick, intimate as blood. I killed her with the bushaxe under the porch. The tree frogs thrummed even louder that night, because I saved them. You can’t save them all, the generals told him. But unless ye be saved, ye do not enter. How long must a snake soul wander, filling out its punishment? How long a soldier’s? Or a priest’s? On your belly shall ye crawl. Eat the dust of the earth. Lie here, ye snakes, ye ghosts, in the long shadow of my house, and cool yourselves. Bruise my ankle, bruise my heel. I can’t control your lives here now.

I dream at night of falling, like he did. The soldier’s voices called and called him till he struggled out of bed and fell. I dream I’m standing on the third floor of this house, outside the attic, and I plummet through the spirals of thin air down to the boards. Past the beams exposed like bones where plaster flakes away, past cracks like veins. I stand upon this height and swoon. I’ll lie where he did, where the dying men clawed grooves into the wood, where the prayers twined up into the air, where the other women cried. The blood below me marks the place. Their voices beat the air around my ears, but still I wait for his. How long, O Lord, how long?

I wait. I wait. Wise virgin with the lamp, in readiness. The Lady with the Lamp, Crimean, at Antietam, Ypres, and Waterloo. In Korea and Da Nang and in the field below this house. He always told me to bury him there, with the men. His wheelchair leans against the attic wall next to what’s left of other lives, great trunks and yellowed books swollen with the thickness off the air, plantation ledgers bound in faded green. Handprints sweated onto the cover, still. His hands I clutched. They slipped from me. There’s Matthew Arnold, Dante. Armies on a darkling plain. Swept by pity and confusion. Tennyson abandoned next to Dickens. Come into the garden, Maud. The black bat, night, has flown. Bats tuck into the eaves each morning now and whirl against the sky like cindered paper from a flame. Burning. I should burn it all.

Their blood still soaks the floor. His chest was flat as theirs against the covers, his eyes the same cracked blue. Go away, old woman. I don’t know you. I hired a colored boy to carry him up and down the stairs and call him sergeant once again. My son. My son, he said. Are you in pain? Maybe he got lost. Confused. Maybe he tripped and fell upon his legs that got him just so far, upon the bones hollowed by the years of praying in wars, and wars, and wars. His body just unbalanced him, into the air.

I’m an educated woman. I can live here by myself. Why don’t you write a local history, he said. Some verse. This house is full of stories. He put a big desk on the second floor for me. Sometimes I sit there still. I write my name in script across the page, my grandmother’s name, Fidelis, nothing else. It’s Latin. No one can pronounce it. It will confuse the soldiers calling to my husband, and to me. They aren’t the classics-tutored planters’ sons but poor boys, possum-hunters, from the woods. Dulce et decorum est. They plead with me for letters they can’t read. They beg me, now, to come, like him, to comfort them, but I don’t listen. I run from them, up and down the back stairs, in and out the burned wing and the whole one and through the butler’s pantry and the kitchen. Dashing, darting like a girl. I bang the fly-clogged screen to frighten them. I’ll run until I hear that voice. For which I wait.

I ring the old iron bell on its fencepost in the yard and eventually somebody splashes up the driveway, all mud this rainy spring. Past my mailbox with my house’s name and date, the sign they gave me when this house was recognized. Miss Fiddy, how you been, Miss Fiddy? Hummingbirds flirt in the hibiscus. In the field below the house, grass blows. The long hair of graves. Of battle. Thought I’d see about you. They say sometimes they knew my husband at Fort Benning or Fort Bragg. I’ve no idea who they are. I’m fine, I tell them. Pray for me when you think of it. West Alabama is no kind of place. Nobody came to stop his fall.

On the porch, I sit. The soldiers don’t come here, nor does my husband, never past the bloodstains in the hall. Over me the ceiling curves, the timbers soaked and bent by hand for just that line, as graceful as a waist awaits a young man’s arm. The ironwork was forged in Selma and crumbles now to orange powder in my hands. Broken curlicues rust in the grass. Fifty slaves, five years it took to build this house. The plaque they gave me doesn’t mention that. Built 1854, it says. It says there was a battle with no name, down in the field. It doesn’t name the women stepping over bodies in the halls, the sodden mulch of arms and legs beside the door, or the man just like my husband gripping dying hands until he cries. Dear God, Dear God. You have to write things down to know them: without its label, his splinter of the Cross could just have come from under someone’s fingernail. The boys still long for it. They whisper to me, let me hold it, ma’am, please bring it over here. Tell my mama where I died? This house won’t live past me. I’ll burn it down, and with it everything he left.

This house was built to gather, to direct. In thunderstorms, I open doors and windows on the first floor, then I scurry, girl-quick, faster than the boys can call, up to the attic and I open windows there. At the bottom of the stairs I stand and feel the draft whirl over me and up the stairs like smoke. The voices fly up, helpless. As they pass, they lift my hair a little at the ends, like lightning. The whole house shudders. It would burn at once, he said, if lightning struck. The rain sighs. Fill me, say the ditches and the empty barrels in the yard. Wash me, cry the trees, their silver-bellied leaves upturned like hands. This day shall ye be whiter than snow. This day, you’ll be with me in Paradise. Someday, he’ll call. I’ll go.

In the double parlor, pocket doors flung wide, I walk. Marble mantelpieces chill my hands. I can sleep anywhere. No one room on these three floors is mine. In the walls, the fissures bloom and branch, like trees, the voices rustle and insist. I am Fidelis. I can wait.