Weeks before Interim started, Dr. Trina Jones, professor of religion and chair of the Wofford College Department of Religion, sent each of her students a handwritten letter.
This letter was written on vintage Wofford stationery, gifted to her by the family of the late Rev. Dr. Charlie Barrett, who taught in the religion department for 33 years.
She wrote to the students as a way of getting them excited about the class and ready to learn more about the “lost art of letter writing.”
“I want the students to walk away with an appreciation for the history of letter writing and an awareness of their own interactions with different forms of communication,” Jones says.
Jones’ appreciation for letter writing started during the pandemic, when she joined numerous pen pal groups to communicate with people across the world.
Several leaders of these pen pal groups and organizations were able to speak to the Interim class over Zoom during their first couple of weeks in the course.
Murphy Thornton ’24, a sociology and anthropology major from Charleston, South Carolina, said that she enjoyed this speaker series because of how passionate they were about their work and about letters in general.
“They really taught me to keep being excited in what you want to do and what you enjoy,” Thornton says. “Your excitement will get others excited.”
Other aspects of the coursework were more interactive, such as a calligraphy lesson from Stephanie Elmerick, owner of Sip and Script in Spartanburg.
Bailey Edwards ’23 is a psychology major and studio art minor from Charleston, South Carolina, and she found particular interest in the art of calligraphy, mastering the craft after only one day of practice.
“As a studio art minor, I really like pretty things that are aesthetically pleasing,” Edwards says. “I have really terrible handwriting, so when I do the calligraphy, it’s all perfectly aligned, and I do it slowly so it can be perfectly spaced.”
Jones sees a more sentimental side to the craft as well.
Dr. Daniel Welch, professor of physics at Wofford, passed away in fall 2020. Several people from the physics department found fountain pens in his office from his previous Interim course on calligraphy, gifting them to Jones to use for her new course.
There were enough pens to give each student two and have enough to distribute to a future course as well.
The course is being planned again for Interim 2025. It could expand into a study abroad Interim to England, where much of the letter writing history is.