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The English literature major offers a range of courses in American literature, British literature, creative writing, cultural studies, and world literature. The major privileges freedom, flexibility, and diversity, inviting students to design a course of study which integrates a broad range of topics, genres, and methods.

Elmira College enjoys a proud association with literary history. Mark Twain wrote his most famous works, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in the octagonal study now located on the Elmira College campus. His father-in-law, Jervis Langdon, was one of the College's founders and his wife, Olivia, was among the earliest students. Their niece, Ida Langdon, chaired the English department and oversaw the transfer of the Mark Twain Study to the campus in 1952. 

In appreciation of this unique legacy, the English curriculum is cosmopolitan and progressive. Students are expected to be, like Twain, open-minded explorers of diverse cultures and mediums. English courses stress inclusion. Students investigate unfamiliar ideas, interrogate prejudices, and integrate interdisciplinary interests. 

Most English courses concentrate on works written during or after Twain's lifetime, though majors are also required to survey early periods with emphasis on the political, technological, social, and cultural developments which recognizably shape the contemporary world.

Learn more about Mark Twain's Elmira connections. (

Visit the College Bulletin for a full listing of English Literature courses and descriptions.

College Bulletin