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Summer Writers Institute 

Who Should Apply to the Writers Institute

The 2016 application will be available January 4th, 2016.

Since its inaugural season in 1987, the New York State Summer Writers Institute has drawn students from across the United States as well as from Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, France, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, South Korea and Singapore. Students have ranged from 20 to 99 years of age. The Institute is intended principally for students who have had at least one or two previous workshop experiences. It is definitely not for high school students or for freshman college students. Approximately 50 percent of the program participants are undergraduate or graduate students.

Experience the Workshops and More!

The Institute offers its workshops for undergraduate credit (4 credits), as well as noncredit. Students may enroll for two weeks (July 4-15 or July 18-29) or for the entire four-week session (July 4-29). Standard three-hour class meetings are held each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Each workshop is primarily built around discussion of student works, which are collected in early June and run off in multiple sets so that students may receive them throughout their stay at the Institute, a few at a time, to be read in time for the various class meetings. Some instructors also assign writing exercises (optional) and recommend brief readings that are not written by workshop students for classroom discussion.

The program is supplemented by Q & A sessions with visiting writers on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Weekend programs, for enrolled students only, include publishing symposia, panel discussions, and student readings. Public readings by faculty and visiting writers are sponsored by the Institute on Monday through Friday evenings.

A fiction writer-in-residence reads entire student novels or extensive fiction works in progress—not collections of stories—and meets with students on a tutorial basis. Other distinguished writers-in-residence read book-length poetry or non-fiction manuscripts and offer advice for revisions and eventual book submissions. The extra tutorial fee is $400.

An extraordinary staff of distinguished writers, among them winners of such major honors as the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, serve as Institute faculty members.

2016 Workshops

Only four-week students may receive academic credit.  All workshops meet Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. There are approximately 16 students per workshop.

How to Select a Workshop: Applicants are encouraged to select the workshop which seems most appropriate and attractive to them, but the Director and Associate Director of the program will make the final determinations about placement based upon review of the required writing sample and other relevant factors, including previous workshop experience.

Workshop Title

Two-Week Options (non-credit)

Four-Week Options (credit & non-credit)


July 4 – 15, 2016: Elizabeth Benedict and Victoria Redel (one week each)

July 18 – 29, 2016: Adam Braver and Cristina Garcia (one week each)

July 4 – 29, 2016: Benedict, Redel, Braver, Garcia


July 4 – 15, 2016: Howard Norman and Mary Gaitskill (one week each)

July 18 – 29, 2016: Amy Hempel and Paul Harding (one week each)

July 4 – 29, 2016: Norman, Gaitskill, Hempel, Harding


July 4 – 15, 2016: Joanna Scott and Claire Messud (one week each)

July 18 – 29, 2016: Rick Moody (both weeks)

July 4 – 29, 2016: Scott, Messud, Moody


July 4 – 15, 2016: Memoir & Personal Essay with Phillip Lopate (both weeks)

July 18 – 29, 2016: Miscellaneous Forms (including memoir) with James Miller (both weeks)

July 4 – July 29, 2016: Lopate and Miller (two weeks each)


July 4 – 15, 2016: Campbell McGrath and Carolyn Forche (one week each)

July 18 – 29, 2016: Peg Boyers (both weeks)

July 4 – 29, 2016: McGrath, Forche, Boyers


July 4 – 15, 2016: Master Class with Frank Bidart (both weeks)

July 18 – 29, 2016: Advanced and Master Class with Henri Cole (both weeks)

July 4 – 29, 2016: Bidart and Cole (two weeks each)



Workshop Manuscript Submissions: A letter will be sent to all enrolled students in early May providing detailed instructions on how to submit their manuscript(s) that will be reviewed in the workshop(s). The instructions will include length requirements, format and specific dates when manuscripts are due (typically first week of June). All manuscripts must be received by the deadline indicated in the letter and must be addressed to:

Robert Boyers, Director
New York State Summer Writers Institute
Skidmore College
815 N Broadway
Saratoga Springs, New York, 12866-1632

Students who are enrolled in a two-week workshop with two different instructors—each of whom will be teaching for one of the two weeks—will have their manuscript reviewed by one instructor, not both. Students may request one of the instructors rather than the other when they submit their manuscript, and though the program directors will try to accommodate requests, they cannot guarantee that this will be possible in every instance.

Special Readings/Discussions: Discussions with visiting writers, faculty, and special panels are scheduled between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday and are open only to students enrolled in the Institute. Summer 2016 writers participating include Joseph O Neill, Rivka Galchen, Caryl Phillips, Jamaica Kincaid, Ann Beattie, Russell Banks, and Chase Twichell. Public readings, interviews, and discussions are scheduled between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. A complete listing of public readings is available on the Skidmore College Event Calendar in the spring. Please note this listing is subject to changes. Student readings are on Sunday evenings. Other special weekend events include two-hour workshops (session one and session two) on "Writing Historical Fiction" and "Fiction Into Film". 

Tutorial Sessions

Registering for a Tutorial: Students accepted into the Institute who wish to register for a tutorial program with one of the writers-in-residence will find an opportunity to do so in a letter sent out by the director in early May.  Once accepted students receive this letter, they may access the Manuscript Tutorial Registration Form here.