Starting next year, creative writers will have more opportunities at Yale to hone their craft during the summer months.
Yale Summer Session will be launching a new creative-writing institute in summer 2017, where students from within and outside of Yale can enroll in for-credit courses taught by Yale faculty. The institute, which will be coordinated with the English Department, is designed to take place concurrently with the annual Yale Writers’ Conference, an event that brings professional writers to campus to give workshops and master classes to students from Yale and other colleges. Dean of Yale Summer Session Jeanne Follansbee said that in addition to master classes at the conference, students enrolled in Yale Summer Session creative-writing courses can go to panels hosted by publishers and literary agents that focus on a writer’s work beyond just their craft. In contrast to a traditional course, an institute boasts additional activities, shared meals and readings from instructors and participants, immersing students in a community of learners.
“Students will really get an opportunity to think about how to move to creating, publishing and finding an outlet for their work,” Follansbee said. “It gives them a little bit of a taste of the practice of being a writer.”
The Writers’ Conference will be enhancing the for-credit offerings available through the institute, despite being separate from Yale’s official curriculum. Among the writers who will speak at this year’s Writers’ Conference are English professors Michael Cunningham and Louise Glück, as well as Claudia Rankine, who will join Yale’s English faculty next year.
Follansbee said the institute will give Yale students an opportunity to take lower-level creative writing classes so that during the year they can take advantage of upper-level seminars, most of which require an application.
Students and faculty interviewed welcomed Yale’s new summer for-credit offerings. Nina Goodheart ’19 said the new institute is something she would definitely consider during the summer, as it would give her the opportunity to dedicate more time and attention to her English classes.
“It seems like a really great way for people who are trying to get English credits — such as myself, a prospective English major — to accrue more credits and be able to focus on creative writing over the summer rather than having to juggle it with four or five other classes,” Goodheart said.
John Crowley, an English professor who teaches courses in creative writing, was enthusiastic about the institute and said it would be similar to those that already exist in other fields, like science and technology and language study.
Like Crowley, Carly Gove ’19, an English major and prospective creative-writing concentrator, said she was excited by the establishment of the institute, but added that the administration could use the institute to improve on issues already present in the English department, like a lack of diversity in courses offered during the fall and spring semesters.
“The English major at Yale is super white and that makes a lot of people not want to do it,” Gove said. “If they could work on that in the summer program that would be great.”
In the 2014–2015 academic year, Yale conferred 65 bachelor’s degrees in English.