The Return: A Novel of 1930s Mahtomedi, Minnesota

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Reyes, Rachel
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Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
In 1993, the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching was borne out of a collaborative idea of the Faculty Senate and the Senior Vice President and Provost Office to “support our faculty in ways that help them become better, more effective teachers.” While Iowa State University takes great pride in its research mission and commitment as a doctoral-granting research extensive university, we are equally proud of how teaching is at the core of our educational experience. Indeed, the bedrock of a world-class research university is its commitment to enhancing learning in the community of scholars.
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The Department of English seeks to provide all university students with the skills of effective communication and critical thinking, as well as imparting knowledge of literature, creative writing, linguistics, speech and technical communication to students within and outside of the department.

The Department of English and Speech was formed in 1939 from the merger of the Department of English and the Department of Public Speaking. In 1971 its name changed to the Department of English.

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  • Department of English and Speech (1939-1971)

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The Return is a 64,000-word historical fiction novel set in 1930s Mahtomedi, Minnesota, my hometown and a suburb of St. Paul. Told from multiple points of view, the novel explores trauma, grief, family dynamics, and the journey to a sense of belonging, identity, and a place to call home. The novel’s concept originated from a 10,000-word short story written for an upper-level fiction writing class in April 2017. During the following summer, I used Stackpole’s 21 Days to a Novel method to develop the novel’s characters, plot, setting, and major themes. After writing the first and second drafts during the Fall 2017 semester, I gave the novel to three beta readers to review. In January 2018, I received my readers’ feedback and I am currently working on the third draft. Throughout the writing process, I have used print, online, and visual sources to conduct historical research on Prohibition, 1930s Twin Cities and Mahtomedi, the process of making moonshine whiskey, sensationalized gangster activity, and other relevant topics to ensure the novel’s historical accuracy and authenticity. After I finish writing and revising the novel, I plan to send the completed manuscript to several publishers in the Midwest.