One of the stories Ms. Rachael Jennings brings to Dublin is a tale of being caught in a sandstorm in the Sahara—with a group of people who did not speak the same language. She also brings many passions: ranging from her appreciation for writers—Junot Diaz to Virginia Woolf, from Miranda July to Shakespeare, to her love of music and examining social justice issues through music, to her dedication to writing, to her excitement over Dublin’s (incredible) cuisine, particularly when the kitchen staff features acorn squash.
Jennings is Dublin’s English Department Chair. She attended Middlebury College for undergrad, and she will obtain her Master’s Degree from Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English in August. During her undergraduate studies, she concentrated in Creative Writing. She also edited the newspaper and literary magazine, interned for the New England Review, and sang a cappella. At Bread Loaf, Jennings is currently conducting an independent research project—supervised by Princeton’s Professor Lyndon Dominique—that examines 18th-century literary tropes around black femininity and agency as they relate to contemporary artists like Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé.
Before Dublin, Jennings was teaching at The Haverford School, a Philadelphia-area all-boys’ school. When she recounts her favorite parts about teaching at Haverford, she describes the vulnerability and empathy that emerged in class discussions and the fun that she had while leading the Debate Team, Ultimate B Team, Creative Writing Club, and literary magazine. Jennings, in collaboration with a colleague, brought an evening seminar to Haverford—the first of its kind—called “Human Relationships.” The seminar brought students from Haverford’s sister schools as well as the Haverford students, and for two-and-a-half hours every Monday, they studied empathy, love, and equitable partnerships. “It is a blend of Gender Studies, academic perspectives—from psychologists to writers to biologists—on love and lust, and Sexuality Education,” she says. Students studied short stories by Ausubel and O’Brien and Kincaid, longer excerpts from Aristotle and Ibsen, documentary clips from The Mask You Live In—which studies American masculinity, and contemporary essayists like Roxane Gay and Michael Mleloday. “But the center of the course was the student, the issues and questions that that student wanted to pursue,” she adds. “You know, we all have questions about who we are and how that intersects with who we are with other people, how to live our lives best, what to be aware of, what to question, what to recognize that we don’t know—where we see our values, our fears, our ignorance. I wanted the course to give students a safe academic space to get closer to those questions, those bigger human questions. Intimacy with your own mind and another person? Other people? Few things are more crucial than that.”
What drew her to Dublin? She says that it felt like a place where people could learn authentically. “It just exudes this idea that people are leaping toward what they love to learn and do, but they aren’t limiting themselves to that,” she says. “They are leaping out of their comfort zones. They are figuring out what makes them who they are and what makes them happiest.”
Outside of the classroom, Jennings loves reading, writing fiction, seeing concerts, running, exploring the great outdoors, and cooking. She likes baking vegan chocolate chip banana bread, too—“it’s a stress power move.” She loves talking books and Beyoncé, so feel free to stop in and discuss. You can find her in FAB or Wing and Hollow (“flash the Wing symbol!” she adds).