English and Creative Writing

There are many places to learn to write well at Hamilton, but nowhere better than in English classes, where great writing is the first concern every day. You may get a chance to collaborate with faculty members on research and publications, and there are grants to fund the work.

Peter Bresnan ’15
Peter Bresnan '15

A student writer’s plan: teaching what he loves

Peter Bresnan ’15 is a short-story writer who opted to major in English literature rather than creative writing. Still, he gets up early and stays up late to write, and he just had a story published in Red Weather, Hamilton’s student literary and art magazine. Bresnan intends to pursue fiction writing along with a doctorate in English and an academic career.

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Hamilton’s approach to writing drew him to the college, and he’d heard it had a great writing center. He got involved there. “I am a tutor, which is my favorite part about being here,” he says.

Through that work, Bresnan discovered his affinity for teaching, and he expects he will teach some day at the college level. He’s experienced what good teaching can do: He says he has his mind blown on a weekly basis in a couple of his classes at Hamilton.

“The teachers here are so good. They really, really are. And even when I have the hardest moments and I say ‘I don’t want to be here,’ my teachers are really the anchors that always pull me back to earth,” he says.

Selena Coppock ’02A graduate’s progress: comedy, a book and a day job

Right before she studied abroad in London, Selena Coppock ’02 dyed her hair almost black, which she admits was not a good look on her: “It was a dark time.” The anecdote takes a chapter in Coppock’s new book The New Rules for Blondes, which contains humorous essays – some based on her experiences in her college years – “celebrating and subverting the stereotype.”

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“But it can definitely be enjoyed by people of all hair colors,” Coppock adds wryly.

She was drawn to Hamilton by its focus on writing. She decided to major in English, a degree that would allow her to develop her writing and leave her open to lots of career options. She’s still happy with her decision, as she has chosen to pursue multiple careers. She’s a senior editor at The Princeton Review project managing 15 to 18 books a year as her nine-to-five. On the weekends, she performs standup and writes comedy.

“I find that I can be most creative when I'm not stressed about money or insurance,” she says. “It's a lot, but it allows me to be out the door at 6 p.m. and go straight to gigs.  My boss thinks that it's fantastic that I do standup, which is wonderful – and sadly, not that common.”