You will study literature in the broadest sense – canonical texts, popular literature, film and new media – in English or in other languages. Faculty will help you to develop as a writer, whether you are interpreting the literary text of others or creating your own.

About the Major

Students may major in literature or creative writing. Their professors will encourage them to create and study literature across centuries, nations and languages. Consulting with advisors, literature majors will develop an individualized, and potentially interdisciplinary, course of study. Creative writing majors will take a course load that balances literary study with poetry and prose workshops. At each stage, in both majors, the curriculum emphasizes small classes, the exchange and testing of ideas and the development of superior reading and writing skills.

Comparative literature has taught me to question everything, and to examine what I read both closely and broadly. My professors have pushed me to do things I never thought I could. Whether it was tackling Proust's masterpiece, deciding to conduct independent summer research, or helping me decide where to study abroad – faculty in the comparative literature department have mentored me in every aspect of my life at Hamilton.

Meghan O’Sullivan ’15 — Comparative literature major

Studying literature and creative writing increases our appreciation of the powers of the human imagination to use language to create beauty, complexity and emotionally powerful experiences. Studying literature and creative writing within multiple contexts increases our understanding of how historical and cultural forces influence our behavior and experiences.

Careers After Hamilton

  • Director, Electronic Publishing, Scientific American
  • Executive Editor, Whole Living magazine
  • Chief Development Officer, Norman Rockwell Museum
  • President, Scholastic Media
  • Magistrate, Connecticut State Superior Court
  • Composer/Music Publisher, Ceili Rain
  • Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial Services
  • Physician, Senior Deputy Editor, Annals of Internal Medicine
  • Communications Manager, IBM

Contact Information

Literature and Creative Writing Department

198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
315-859-4370 mthickst@hamilton.edu

Meet Our Faculty

A Sampling of Courses

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Food in Literature and Film 118F

Always a necessity and sometimes a luxury, food connects all people to the planet and to one another. This course will explore how authors and filmmakers use food and cooking in their works as a means of exposing complex social relationships, histories, and identities. The list of authors we may read includes Laura Esquivel, Aimee Bender, Isak Dinesen, Franz Kafka, MFK Fisher, Ruth Reichl, and many poets. We will also look at films such as Big Night; Eat, Drink, Man, Woman; and Ratatouille. Writing-intensive. Proseminar.

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Literature as/of medicine 119F

Writers from Longinus to Toni Morrison believe that literature itself can heal, that it can make us better, and is itself a kind of medicine. In this course we will examine this idea in poetry, novels, plays, and non-fiction, in the context of representations of the lives of doctors and patients, medical history and theory, and disease. Texts include works by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Mary and Percy Shelley, Kafka, Sontag, Amis, and Gawande. Writing-intensive.

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Creative Non-Fiction Workshop 309S

For students whose work and purpose in creative writing have developed sufficiently to warrant work in creative non-fiction. We will read memoir, travel/nature writing, and literary journalism by a wide range of authors to provide a context in which to examine the work students generate for the class. Part of our task will be to answer the question: What is creative non-fiction? Through a close examination of the texts we read in class, and the process of both writing and critiquing essays, we will attempt to clarify the sometimes vague definitions of the genre.

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The Romantic Poets 335F

The Romantic Period in English literary history has long been defined by the work of six male poets: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron. We will study their poetry in the context of form, history, and politics, and investigate how their work might be seen to form an ideology or movement. We will also read work by poets such as Barbauld, Clare, Burns, and Hemans, popular in their own day, but thought of as ‘minor’ subsequently, in order to evaluate how questions of gender and literary value inform our sense of what is ‘Romantic’. Writing-intensive.

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The Hollywood Novel 374S

A look at novels dealing with or set in Hollywood and at adaptations of novels to film. Students will write short screen adaptations from short fiction and work together as a team (or in teams) on digital video productions of one or more student screenplays. Writing-intensive.

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Seminar: Muslims, Women and Jews: Alterity and Identity in the Middle Ages 428S

How did medieval Christians perceive difference and define the boundaries of identity? Study of medieval literature dealing with disenfranchised populations within European Christian society (women and Jews) and those outside its bounds (Muslims). Readings by authors such as Chaucer, Margery Kempe and John Mandeville, as well as anonymous dramas and crusade romances, and modern criticism. Particular consideration of literary and cultural contexts, including sermon stories, histories, medical and legal texts, polemics and religious tracts.

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