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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 — 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
315-859-4459 nguttman@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: What Is It Good For? 153S


Debates about the value of literature have long been tied to questions about its use. Literature has been praised—and condemned—as a source of pleasure, a medium for the transmission of knowledge, and a vehicle of personal expression. In order to determine why fiction matters, we will examine works that explore the power of literature to shape moral, social, and political realities, including philosophical manifestos, anti-slavery treatises, self-help manuals, and experimental novels. Works by Rousseau, Cugoano, Wollstonecraft, and George Eliot, as well as the film The Servant (1963). Writing-intensive.

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Creative Non-Fiction Workshop 309S


A creative non-fiction workshop in which students will read and discuss essays in some of the following sub-genres: memoir, travel/nature writing, food-writing, and literary journalism by a wide range of authors. Readings will provide models for student work as well as contexts in which to examine the work students generate. 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 student essays, we will attempt to clarify the sometimes vague definitions of the genre.

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The Romantic Poets 335


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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Seminar: Booked: Prison Writing 341


Prisons have been the settings for scenes of tragedy, comedy, romance and social protest. While aware of this use of the prison as a literary device, we will read writers who have actually suffered incarceration. We will read European texts (e.g Plato, Bobby Sands), post-colonial prison writers (e.g. Chris Abani, Ruth First), and the work of men and women inside the American prison system. (Students who are 21 will visit a class run inside a local prison facility.) Prerequisite, two courses in literature. Maximum enrollment, 12. Larson.

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The Hollywood Novel 374


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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