English Major Spotlight: Claire Nelson

This aspiring novelist recommends getting to know other readers and aspiring writers through the English student group FUSE
Head and shoulders image of person with black curly hair, light-rimmed glasses, light brown skin, smiling, wearing white polka dot black shirt, in front of white and black interior and brown door

Year: Junior

Hometown: Farmington, Minnesota.

Why did you choose to major in English? 

I chose to major in English because I aspire to be a novelist. I am deeply passionate about the craft of writing, and I believe fiction enables people to see and appreciate life’s inherent beauty in a way they’d never otherwise be able to. For this reason, I hope to spend the entirety of my life growing as a writer.

What has been your favorite part of your experience in the department?

(1) I have absolutely loved getting to meet and befriend other book-lovers and aspiring writers through the Fellowship of Undergraduate Students in English (FUSE). (2) This is random, but I also really love our building. Pillsbury is so gorgeous, and I feel it very fitting that artistically-inclined people like ourselves get to call it our own. Its ornate architecture truly makes it feel like something of Hogwarts.

Are you pursuing any majors, minors, internships, or interests outside your English major? 

Though creative writing is my passion, I have an interest in journalism. I served as the Race and Diversity Reporting Intern for the Minnesota Daily, and that was a lot of fun for me. I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to study all the different subjects I wrote about for the Daily. I’ve also been dipping my toes in the water of freelance journalism, and I recently began an internship with the Pioneer Press in which I cover breaking news stories. All have been great experiences for me!

What English course would you recommend for majors? For non-majors who want to take an English class?

For both English majors and non-English majors, I would recommend "Honors Shakespeare" with Katherine Scheil. She is such a sweet and amazing professor, and her passion for Shakespeare invigorated the whole class. Students came ready to participate, and as a result our discussions were always fun and stimulating. You can count on it being super fun and not at all stressful.

What is a favorite book you read recently?

In one of my classes last year, we read a book called Funny Boy by Shyam Sekvadurai, and the narrative truly moved me. The story follows a young, queer Sri Lankan boy named Arjie who navigates life amidst the increasingly dangerous political landscape of Sri Lanka in the 1980s. Arjie’s coming-of-age was heart-warming, complex, painful, and beautiful all at the same time. (Full transparency, I read this book for a Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature class, but I loved it too much not to mention it!)

What is something about the English department that most people wouldn’t know?

Being an English major really helps you to understand past and present-day society. You spend a lot of time reading texts praised for the way they epitomize the real-life people and phenomena represented in them. It helps you to empathize with people and understand how multifaceted the world is.

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