Look at the reading lists for English programs at several institutions and you’ll find many of the same, great traditional texts.
Keuka’s English curriculum also includes the greats with “slightly nontraditional texts mixed in,” according to Haynes.
“We try to encourage respect for diverse perspectives, an appreciation for different cultures and world views,” said Haynes. This is achieved through American and British literature courses, as well as the study of Native American and Hispanic literature.
“Literature, inherently, allows us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes for a moment, to understand and respect their point-of-view,” said Haynes, who hails from England.
In the courses he teaches—which include American Literature I: Beginning to 1865; College English II; Poems, Plays and Prose; and Senior Seminar—Haynes “tries to stress the value of literature in our daily lives.
“[Literature] can be a rehearsal for moral dilemmas as in Huckleberry Finn, when Huck has to decide whether to help Jim escape slavery,” said Haynes. “It can also tackle some of the big questions that face our society and make change happen. Many people agree that Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle is responsible for bringing about changes in the meat-packing industry.”
In keeping with the College’s mission, experiential learning is part and parcel of the English program, according to Haynes.
“Reading and writing are inherently experiential processes,” said Haynes. “In my Poems, Plays and Prose class, I have students write parodies of nursery rhymes in the style of Romantic poet William Wordsworth. In Professor of English Doug Richards’ Shakespeare course, students play out the scenes. And then there’s Red Jacket, a publication of students’ creative writing.”
The power of imagination and creativity, which the English program fosters, are skills needed for a wide range of positions including business, law, and education, according to Haynes.
“[When one studies English or the humanities, he or she learns] not just how to make a living, but how to live well.”