Writing in the Time of Crisis: Incoming First-Years Published in Away Journal

August 20, 2020

Amanda Nagy

Multimedia graphic depicting a storm.
"Into the Storm," created by Maya Rogers '24.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Maya Rogers

Away Journal, an online space for compelling stories about travel edited by Professor of Rhetoric and Composition Laurie McMillin, published a special issue on the pandemic that includes pieces submitted by five incoming first-years. 

The five students, Hazel Feldstein, Benjamín López Díaz, Cecil Pulley, Auden Friedman, and Maya Rogers, participated in Oberlin’s innovative eight-week remote course, Uncovering COVID-19: Critical Liberal Arts Perspectives. 

McMillin lectured on “Writing in the Time of Crisis,” which focused on nonfiction personal accounts of COVID-19 and the pandemic. 

“For this session, we read a number of examples of how people were grappling with the liminality of the pandemic and lockdown in nonfiction writing—dispatches, linear essays, diaries, fragments, and experimental forms,” McMillin says. “As part of this, students were invited to write about their own experiences. For the final project, using the variety of examples and approaches we'd looked at as inspiration, some students opted to create their own accounts.”

McMillin says she enjoys these pieces as a collection because they “demonstrate the ingenuity of the writers—their willingness to explore nonfiction writing in ways that represent their experience. I love that they are so varied in tone, scope and medium. And I really love the ways they work within and push the limits of the genre of nonfiction writing.”

This special issue of Away is an outgrowth of a series called “Sheltering in Place,” based on people's experience of the pandemic and lockdown. “This particular collection from the virtual COVID-19 class adds depth and breadth to that series.” 

Laurie Hovell McMillin

Laurie Hovell McMillin

  • Professor of Writing and Communication
  • Chair of Writing and Communication
  • Director of Writing Program
View Laurie Hovell McMillin's biography

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