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Skidmore College
Summer Writers Institute


Who Should Apply to the Writers Institute?

Since its inaugural season in 1987, the New York State Summer Writers Institute has drawn students from all over the world. The Institute is designed for college-aged students and adults, and approximately 50 percent of the program participants are undergraduate or graduate students.

Experience the Workshops and More!

An extraordinary staff of distinguished writers, among them winners of such major honors as the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, serve as the Institute’s faculty. The Institute offers its workshops for undergraduate credit (4 credits), as well as noncredit. Students may enroll for two week workshops (Session 1: June 28-July 11 or Session 2: July 12-25) or for the entire four-week session (June 28-July 25). Only four-week students may receive academic credit. One-week workshops are also available in Fiction and Poetry, only. Standard three-hour class meetings are held each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for all workshops. Workshop class meetings are mandatory. Each workshop is primarily built around discussion of student works, which are collected in early June and distributed 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. There are approximately 16 students per two-week workshop. There are approximately 8 students in the one-week workshops. 

Readings, Discussions, and Events

Q & A’s with visiting writers and special panels are scheduled between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday and are open only to students enrolled in the Institute. Public readings, interviews, and discussions by faculty and visiting writers are scheduled at 8 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 also scheduled. Participation is optional. Other special weekend events include a barbeque picnic for students and faculty, publishing symposia, film viewings, and discussions on "Writing Historical Fiction" and "Fiction Into Film". Although these sessions are optional, they are highly recommended and enrich the overall Institute experience.

2020 Workshops

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 & One-Week Options (non-credit)

Four-Week Options
(credit & non-credit)


June 28 – July 11, 2020: Elizabeth Benedict and Adam Braver (one week each)

July 12 – 25, 2020: James Hannaham and Dana Johnson (one week each)

June 28 – 25, 2020: Benedict, Braver, Hannaham, Johnson


July 12 – 25, 2020: Garth Greenwell (both weeks)

No four-week option


June 28 – July 11, 2020: Daniel Torday and Mary Gaitskill (one week each)

July 12 – 25, 2020: Rick Moody and Paul Harding (one week each)

June 28 – July 25, 2020: Torday, Gaitskill, Moody, Harding



June 28 – July 4, 2020: Madeline Miller – Historical & Mythic (one week only) Available only for Non-Scholarship applicants.

July 12 – 18, 2020: Amy Hempel – Short Fiction (one week only) Available only for Non-Scholarship applicants.

No four-week option


June 28 – July 11, 2020: Memoir & Personal Essay with Phillip Lopate (both weeks)

July 12 – 25, 2020: Personal Essay & Cultural Criticism with Thomas Chatterton Williams (both weeks)

June 28 – July 25, 2020: Lopate and Williams (two weeks each)


June 28 – July 11, 2020: Campbell McGrath and Vijay Seshadri (one week each)

July 12 – 25, 2020: Peg Boyers (both weeks)

June 28 – July 25, 2020: McGrath, Seshadri, Boyers


June 28 – July 4, 2020: Gregory Pardlo (one week only) Available only for Non-Scholarship applicants.

July 5 – 11, 2020: Rosanna Warren (one week only) Available only for Non-Scholarship applicants.

July 12 – 25, 2020: Advanced and Master Class with Henri Cole (both weeks)

June 28 – July 25, 2020: Pardlo, Warren, Cole


How to Submit Workshop Manuscripts: In early May, a letter will be sent from the Director, Robert Boyers, to all enrolled students, detailing instructions on how to submit the manuscripts that they wish to have read and discussed in their workshops. All manuscripts will be submitted electronically. The letter will include instructions about specific length requirements and format, as well as a link to an online system for uploading manuscripts. Workshop manuscripts must be uploaded by June 2nd.

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.

Extra (optional) Manuscript Tutorial Sessions

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 manuscript tutorial fee is $500.

  • Students enrolled in Fiction 1, 2, or 3 who are writing novels are invited to register for intensive tutorial sessions with writers-in-residence Helen Klein Ross or Amy Meyerson. The writers-in-residence will read and discuss with students entire novels up to 250 manuscript pages in length.
  • Students enrolled in poetry or non-fiction workshops who are preparing book-length collections are invited to register for private sessions with Barry Goldensohn (poetry) or Lorrie Goldensohn (non-fiction), who will offer criticism and advice on manuscripts up to 70 pages in length (poetry) or 150 pages (non-fiction).

How to Register for a Tutorial: In early May, a letter will be sent from the Director, Robert Boyers, to all enrolled students, detailing instructions on how to register for an optional tutorial session. Instructions will include specific length requirements and format for tutorial manuscripts. Tutorial manuscripts are due by June 2nd, and must be mailed in hard copy to:

Amy Wallen, Associate Director
New York State Summer Writers Institute
Skidmore College
815 N Broadway
Saratoga Springs, New York, 12866-1632