Cornell's Literary History
The Department of English and Creative Writing at Cornell has a long and storied history in the literary arts. The Cornell community enjoyed visits from writers such as Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Jack London, May Sarton, Thornton Wilder, Saul Bellow, W.H. Auden, and Stephen Spender. Carl Sandburg became a fixture on campus, appearing annually from 1920 to 1939.
For 40 years, starting in the 1960s, the creative writing program was steered by Robert P. Dana, two-term poet laureate of Iowa. He was the editor-in-chief of the revived North American Review at Cornell from 1964 to 1969.
Professor Clyde Tull (1917-1947) founded and edited the first literary journal at Cornell, The Husk, which published student work from 1922-1967. In 1968, Dana established the current student literary journal, Open Field.
In 2012, Cornell opened the Van Etten-Lacey House, home for the Cornell Center for the Literary Arts. The Center has hosted readings by writers such as Mark Doty, D.A. Powell, Marc Niesen, Scott Russell Sanders, Sandra Beasley, and writers from around the globe through Iowa’s International Writers Program. Distinguished Visiting Faculty now come to campus each year to teach advanced topics courses; distinguished writers have included Michael Martone (writing the rural), Ross Gay (poetry and trauma), Mira Rosenthal (literary translation), Lily Hoang (fabulist fiction), and Sarah Prineas (children’s literature and the protagonist).
The Cornell M.F.A. is the next step in the evolution of Cornell’s creative writing community.