College to launch Writing Institute this summer

A new summer weeklong Writing Institute at SUNY Oswego is geared toward helping participants polish their work, bolster their creativity and interact with other writers.

Running July 10 to 16, the institute will aim to break down barriers toward writing while building community among writers.

“Creative writing is a solitary activity—day after day, sitting in a room, thinking your own thoughts. It’s an act of communication that can begin to seem like an act of separation,” said Leigh Wilson, associate professor of English writing arts at SUNY Oswego.

Wilson, who spearheaded organizing the institute, co-coordinates the project with adjunct faculty member Katie Riegel, who will manage its day-to-day activities. The program is a collaboration with the Office of Continuing Education.

Every morning will involve two hours of intensive creative writing workshops using the participants’ best work—whether poetry, fiction or nonfiction—which they submit as part of the application process. Afternoons will feature workshops on generating ideas, followed by lectures, panel presentations or discussions on professional issues. Evenings will include a reading by a published author, plus a book-signing and social gathering.

Wilson emphasized that workshops will have limited enrollment so instructors can offer individualized attention. Critiques, participant readings and interactive sessions will provide opportunities to spark creativity and connect with others.

Applicants must have at least a bachelor’s degree, unlike Oswego’s other, student-oriented summer institutes.

“Our students at Oswego State know the tremendous luxury of having access to a community of other artists, and we wanted to bring that to writers elsewhere, writers we might not reach since we’re primarily an undergraduate program,” Wilson said.

Organizers are particularly encouraging high school English teachers to attend. “Some of the sessions at the Writing Institute will be geared toward teaching creative writing,” Wilson said. “We’d like to work with high school teachers on strategies they can take back to their classrooms—back to their own writing communities.”

If teachers’ positive experiences help them convince their best student writers to consider attending Oswego, that would be a bonus, Wilson said.

Launching a Writing Institute dovetails with expanding the writing program’s outreach while building on its strengths of creating and valuing a community of writers of all levels, she added.

For more information, call the Office of Continuing Education at 312-2270 or visit

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(Posted: Mar 23, 2005)