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Summer Writers Institute 

Robert Boyers, Director, NYSSWI – photo by Jim McLaughlin
Robert Boyers, Director, NYSSWI – photo by Jim McLaughlin

Who Should Apply to the Writers Institute

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, France, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, 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. The Institute offers courses for undergraduate and graduate credit, as well as noncredit courses. Approximately 50 percent of the program participants are undergraduate or graduate students.

Experience the Workshops!

Standard three-hour class meetings held each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. are supplemented by a program of Tuesday and Thursday afternoon discussions with visiting writers and other special events. 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. 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. The program sponsors public readings by visiting and staff writers Monday through Friday evenings. Weekend programs, for enrolled students only, include publishing symposia, panel discussions and student readings.

Students may enroll for two weeks (June 29 - July 10 or July 13-24) or for the entire four-week session (June 29-July 24).

2015 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)
June 29 – July 10, 2015: Elizabeth Benedict and Victoria Redel (one week each)

July 13–24, 2015: Adam Braver and Cristina Garcia (one week each)

June 29 – July 24, 2015: Benedict, Redel, Braver, Garcia
June 29 – July 10, 2015: Howard Norman and Mary Gaitskill (one week each)

July 13–24, 2015: Amy Hempel and Paul Harding (one week each)

June 29 – July 24, 2015: Norman, Gaitskill, Hempel, Harding
June 29 – July 10, 2015: Claire Messud and Joanna Scott (one week each)

July 13–24, 2015: Rick Moody (both weeks)

June 29 – July 24, 2015: Messud, Scott, Moody
June 29 – July 10, 2015: Campbell McGrath and Carolyn Forche (one week each)

July 13–24, 2015: Peg Boyers (both weeks)

June 29 – July 24, 2015: McGrath, Forche, Boyers
June 29 – July 10, 2015: Master Class with Frank Bidart (both weeks)

July 13–24, 2015: Advanced and Master Class with Henri Cole (both weeks)

June 29 – July 24, 2015: Master Class w/Bidart and Advanced w/Cole (two weeks each)
June 29 – July 10, 2015: Memoir & Personal Essay with Phillip Lopate (both weeks)

July 13–24, 2015: Miscellaneous Forms (including memoir) with James Miller (both weeks)

June 29 – July 24, 2015: Lopate & Miller (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 the manuscripts that will be used 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 – Melora Wolff, Associate 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 manuscripts, 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 2015 writers participating include Michael Ondaatje, Joseph O'Neill, Rivka Galchen, Caryl Phillips, Jamaica Kincaid, Ann Beattie, Russell Banks, Chase Twichell and Jorie Graham. 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.