The study of English literature at Cornell had its beginnings with the encouragement of the university's first president, Andrew Dickson White, who fostered the new discipline at a time in the nineteenth century when classical authors were the primary focus of academic study. Today the Cornell English Department retains the pluralistic ideals of the university's founders, but in the context of a discipline that is constantly evolving. Within the Department, ongoing debates about the role of critical theory or cultural studies, the status of popular culture, the relevance of film studies, or the definition of the words "English" and "literature" themselves, have led to new understandings of the discipline. Meanwhile, outside the Department, the growth of interdisciplinary work has led to a range of connections across the humanities at Cornell, and has given the English Department a central role in the discussion of the future of the humanities, in academia and in society at large.

For more information, go to Cornell University Department of English Home Page.

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  • Media Studies 1932: Nancy Cunard in the Archive of Claude McKay 

    Braddock, Jeremy (Modernism/modernity, 2018-05-30)
    This essay examines the 1931-1933 correspondence of Claude McKay and Nancy Cunard, apparently the only surviving set of letters that document the composition of Cunard's Negro anthology (1934). The few scholars who have ...
  • How to Be in Two Places at Once: Listening to the Firesign Theatre in the U.S. and Vietnam 

    Braddock, Jeremy (The Organist / KCRW and McSweeney's, 2017-12-14)
    A podcast that discusses the distinctive way the recordings of the Firesign Theatre were listened to collectively, in the United States and Vietnam, during the years of their Columbia recording contract, 1967-75. Features ...
  • The Firesign Theatre's Wax Poetics: Overdub, Dissonance, and Narrative in the Age of Nixon 

    Braddock, Jeremy (Sounding Out!, 2017-11-27)
    A short article on how the Firesign Theater, during the period of their contract with Columbia Records (1967-75), pioneered a new form of sound-based literary writing using the emerging technologies of multitrack recording, ...
  • A Conversation with Jonathan Culler 

    Culler, Jonathan; Adams, Barry B. (Internet-First University Press, 2015-09-10)
    During his 38 years on the Cornell faculty, Jonathan Culler (successor to M. H. Abrams as Class of 1916 Professor of English) has served as academic administrator as well as teacher and scholar, first as Director of the ...
  • A Conversation with Kenneth A. McClane 

    McClane, Kenneth A.; Adams, Barry B. (Internet-First University Press, 2015-07-27)
    Professor Kenneth McClane reflects on his experience as a Cornell freshman, as a member of the Arts College undergraduate College Scholars Program, as a graduate student in the Cornell English Department, and as the ...

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