Fresh Tiger Talent: Spousal Duo Joins English Faculty
This semester, the English department welcomed five new faculty members onto campus, made even more exciting by the return to traditional, in-person classes. The English Unbound team is excited to highlight these new faculty members over the course of the semester. Two of our new faculty, Seth and Chelsea McKelvey, have an even deeper connection. Not only are they colleagues — they are also married!
The McKelveys met during their undergraduate careers at the University of Georgia and have been together in academia ever since. Both received their Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University and began their teaching careers at Auburn University before transitioning to Clemson. Chelsea knew that her post-doctoral position at Auburn was temporary and was looking for something more long-term. Being from Hartwell, Ga., she was excited to hear about the opening at Clemson and the opportunity to return to the area. Having graduated from another large southeastern university, she knew what type of student body to expect and felt confident in connecting with them. Seth agreed that the familiar campus culture was a draw to the position, and was interested because he was familiar with Clemson department faculty members through his own research.
“It was a nice little bonus,” Seth said. “It’s pretty cool that I’m now a part of the same faculty as people whose work I’ve been reading and appreciating.”
The McKelveys were also drawn to the multimodal and collaborative classroom environment that Clemson’s English department encourages. This semester, Chelsea is teaching four sections of British Literature, which she says coincides well with her expertise in Renaissance literature from England. Seth teaches ENGL 1030, Clemson’s introductory composition and rhetoric class that is a general education requirement across majors. Chelsea said she is eager to introduce new modalities like podcasting or video projects. She was also encouraged by the department’s integration of creative writing into literature classes and has found that it can increase student engagement.
Like his spouse, Seth is excited by the new structures and ideas he can bring to the classroom.
“I really like the freedom and openness to innovate in the English classes,” Seth said.
One new classroom structure Seth is experimenting with this semester is contract grading, where he marks assignments as complete or incomplete as opposed to a more traditional letter grade scale, which can help the student/teacher relationship and make the feedback more beneficial.
Seth explains, “It’s more about making sure my students are learning what they need to know as opposed to measuring them on a somewhat imperfect measuring scale and so that our relationship isn’t focused around debating things such as two points on a grade.”
The return to in-person classes has been going great so far, both professors stated. Face-to-face classes have allowed them to invest more on a personal level and get to know their students. Chelsea commended students’ adaptability and creativity throughout the past year and during the transition to in-person learning.
“Though the pandemic, with the closures and the teaching online, was rough, I’m so glad that I was part of it and that now I get to be a part of this next step and navigate back into the classroom,” Chelsea said. “I’m just really encouraged by the students and their attitudes and ability to be flexible.”
Though the couple both work in the same department, their different sub-disciplines and academic interests help with maintaining their relationship, personally and professionally.
“We’re able to learn from each other. I feel like a more well-rounded scholar and teacher from learning from Seth,” Chelsea said.
They also shared their thankfulness to have a partner who really understands the ups and downs of teaching and scholarship. Teaching can be both emotionally draining and fulfilling, and they are grateful to have a partner who understands all that it encompasses. It’s also been helpful for them to bounce teaching methods and ideas off of each other and get advice on what works and what doesn’t. They even previously happened to be teaching the same course at the same time and co-wrote a syllabus together.
The two are a welcome addition to Clemson’s campus and have already shown enthusiasm for their work, their students and the community.
“We’re just really excited to be part of this,” Chelsea said.
Written by: Olivia Hanline