The Elmira College English Literature major offers students a range of courses in British and American literature, and creative writing. Students sample literary history, delve intensively into major authors, improve their ability to read and write critically, and acquire an understanding of literary criticism and the current debates within literary studies. Introductory survey courses in the major periods of British and American literature are followed by more focused courses, including creative writing, Medieval literature, the modern British and American novel, British women writers, contemporary American poetry, and individual authors (such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, Melville, Whitman, and Mark Twain). The major joins literary with social and historical analysis, preparing students for graduate school, teaching, publishing, and any profession involving reading, writing, communication, and analysis.
Working collaboratively with faculty members, students have opportunities to participate in such professional conferences as the annual Plymouth State University Medieval-Renaissance Forum in New Hampshire. There are also opportunities to do research with a professor during the term. In the past, for instance, students have gained valuable experience as bibliographers and editors. As part of spring term seminars, students also may have the chance to travel to famous literary sites, such as the Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe houses in Hartford, Connecticut.
Creative writing courses provide students with opportunities to meet and discuss their work with visiting writers (poets as well as fiction and non-fiction writers). The Iris Readers Series brings contemporary writers to campus for readings and class visits. Students also submit their writing to Sybil, Elmira College’s literary magazine which is edited by students in collaboration with a faculty advisor. There are also a variety of events during the academic year at which students may read their work to a broader audience.