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English Department Welcomes Two New Staff Members

By Jessica Schumaker

Clare ReidClare Reid is the manager of the first-year writing program, where she manages day-to-day operations such as managing schedules, the calendar, the list-serv, and deals with student complaints. Basically, she says, “If it comes to first-year writing, it comes to me first.” Her main passion in this job is pedagogy outreach; two years ago at Georgetown she taught graduate students how to teach. Prior to her current job, she received an undergraduate degree in classical civilizations from Emory, a Masters in English at Georgetown, and also worked as a freelance graphic designer. 

Clare is exceedingly passionate about pedagogy and professional development. With her color-coded spreadsheets, binders, and journals, she stays on top of everything in her role as a “catch-all” for first-year writing. She enjoys reading the variety of syllabi within English 1101 and 1102, especially the unique topics, such as horror, Walt Whitman, and even the Percy Jackson series. Though she currently serves over 2,000 students, she calls the spring semester the “quiet semester.” Helping faculty manage the high volume of students by providing them with aids from pedagogical resources and training to office supplies, she says, is one of the highlights of her job. 

Eventually, Clare wishes to pursue a Ph.D through UGA’s paid tuition for faculty program, likely following a similar subject as her masters: medieval art, specifically art made by nuns and religious women in the 12th and 13th centuries. Her work focuses on medieval art made by these women as it relates to “embodied cognition”—the process of flowed thinking, when the body is doing a physical task but the mind operates in a flowing state of thought. “The nuns used work and specifically artistic creation as a form of mediation and prayer,” she says. “And they were aware of this concept of flow…and why they were doing their art.” Her passion derives from the fact that this undiscussed history rebukes much of the common perceptions about middle-age women, which often characterize them as isolated and having little intelligent thought, much less artistic ability. Because of this interest, Clare focused on the art and lives of these medieval women for her master’s capstone project, which you can find here. It’s a very impressive multi-media project that showcases six activities based on what she describes as “multi-century, multi-modal ways to experience the art medieval nuns were doing.” You can even recreate some of the nuns’ art!

Beyond Park Hall, Clare says she reads “a shocking number of books”—90 last year and 28 so far this year (probably much higher now, as this article was published weeks after the interview). She likes to be in touch with her artistic side; she knits, cooks, sews, paints, and keeps a bullet journal, which I’m sure is very detailed. Her favorite thing to bake is bread; she described in detail how she bakes three loaves a week for herself and her fiance! She is also a veteran of NaNoWriMo, having spent a decade completing the challenge annually. But she’s a bit worried about completing it this year: “I’m getting married this year, and I’m having my wedding in the middle of November—am I going to get it done?” She laughs. “We’ll see.” She enjoys the projects that come out of the race against the clock that is NaNoWriMo, whether they be good or just ridiculous fun.

To close our interview, I asked Clare who her favorite poets are. She has great taste; she recited Sappho, Mary Oliver, and Billy Collins in the span of minutes. A poem of Mary Oliver’s, whom she described as one of her favorite poets from childhood, has turned in my head for hours. It is what Mary Oliver said at her partner’s funeral: “When we pray to love God perfectly, / Surely we do not mean only. / (Lord, see how well I have done.).” 


Peyton MitchellJust one floor up from Clare, I found Peyton Mitchell in her office. Peyton Mitchell is the office assistant for Park Hall and the assistant for UGA’s creative writing program. She graduated from UGA quite recently—in Fall 2022—with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting. Because she didn’t want to leave Athens just yet, she found a place within Park Hall as the office assistant, which handles mail distribution, student questions, and general office management. Her passion for her current position stems from its creative opportunities, such as designing promotional materials for the English Ph.D and Creative writing programs and event planning.

Mitchell’s natural creativity drew her to art from a young age. “My mom has a painting hanging in my childhood home that I did when I was three,” she says, smiling fondly. Though she dabbled in interdisciplinary modes of art, such as 2-D and 3-D, her heart always gravitates towards drawing and painting. The first step she took to becoming professionally trained was not at UGA, but Georgia Southern, where she spent two years. As she was nearing the end of her second year, she felt she and her husband—who was also going to school there—needed a change, so they moved to Athens around the same time the pandemic began. 

It was at UGA that Mitchell created “Lost in Intimate Reverie,” her exit show for the Lamar Dodd school of Art. Her work is influenced by the Impressionist movement because of how the artists redefined the use of light in painting, and especially Monet. “I love that towards the end of his life, Monet was defining things a lot less…it became about color,” she says. She wanted to incorporate undefined style and use of light into her own work. “My paintings are of flowers and landscapes but what I’m really engaging with is color.” I don’t really think ‘engaging’ quite captures what Mitchell does with color; she embodies it in her art. The hues—neon orange, fuschia, deep blues and violets—explode from the canvas and ignite a spark in the mind. Beneath the vibrancy of her art lies a determination: “My goal in painting is not to focus on personal traumas…I don’t owe you my hardship. I want to create light and a space for people to get lost in that.” To get lost in the light, take a look at Mitchell’s work here

Beyond work, Mitchell and her husband can be seen within Molly’s and Thousand Faces Coffee on the weekends. In her free time, Mitchell enjoys crochet (her first project was a jacket) and reading, especially poetry and novels. Fantasy is her favorite genre, which she links to the escapism intrinsic to her identity as a painter. Her favorite poet is Mary Oliver; she decorated her graduation cap with the final two lines from Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day”: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do / with your one wild and precious life?” Mitchell seems to be doing very well with hers.  (That’s two hits for Mary Oliver!)


Jessica Schumaker is an English major at UGA and the social media intern for the English department.


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