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.

Nate Lanman '15
Nathaniel Lanman '15

A student’s shot at pure poetry

When a Hamilton College professor asked Nathaniel Lanman ’15 if he wanted to join a summer research project, the answer was yes, absolutely. “I don’t think you get many opportunities in your life to spend all your time on your writing, and that’s what this summer really was for me,” says Lanman, a creative writing major.

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Through a grant from the College, Lanman and other students in the project studied an abandoned school building in a nearby city and its significance to the community. Lanman created a series of poems inspired by interviews with residents, and the poems became the basis of a theater performance.

Here’s the short version of why he chose creative writing as his major: He is following his passion. Lanman has always felt an “inexplicable connection to creative writing,” and poetry does something for him nothing else can.
“So I guess that’s what a passion is,” 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.”