Our Workshops

Weeklong Workshops

This workshop is closed--waiting list only. Creative Nonfiction: Telling the Truth

July 7 – July 12, 2013

Creative nonfiction reports back to us from what we call the real world, its subject matter “documentable . . . as opposed to ‘invented’ from the writer’s mind,” as Barbara Lounsberry puts it. Its subgenres are many: the personal essay; the essay of place; nature writing; family portraits; memoir; and writing about war, travel, adventure, food, and the like. Creative nonfiction tells stories based in fact, often heavily researched, but always filtered through the lens of what Joan Didion calls “the implacable ‘I’,” and crafted with tools borrowed from fiction’s toolbox: narrative voice, character, plot, description, dialogue. “The primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer,” says Lee Gutkind, “is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction.”

We can begin to experience the particular richness and variety of creative nonfiction in the short texts we read (past works have included Gretchen Legler’s “Moments of Being: An Antarctic Quintet,” Richard Rodriguez’s “Late Victorians,” Richard Selzer’s “The Knife,” and Charles Simic’s “Dinner at Uncle Boris’s”). In the short texts we write during the workshop, we focus on how writers operate within this subgenre, and use their works as a springboard into our own creative nonfictions, keeping in mind how we might teach our students to do the same.

Workshop fee: $950. The fee includes tuition and a single-occupancy dorm room on the Bard College campus, meals (beginning with Sunday dinner and ending with Saturday breakfast), and materials. The commuter fee is $750.

Graduate Credit: Through Bard's Master of Arts in Teaching Program, workshop participants may earn two graduate credits for each weeklong workshop; participants must, in addition to completing the workshop, write and submit a detailed report and a lesson plan on using writing in the classroom. Click for more information.

Getting here: Click here for detailed information about traveling to Bard via road, rail, or air.

The week's schedule and general information: Participants in the July workshops arrive and pick up keys and workshop materials between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 7. During the July workshops, teachers live in single dormitory rooms (with shared bathroom facilities) on the Bard campus, eat meals together (with vegeterian options), and enjoy the beautiful setting and lively atmosphere of Annandale-on-Hudson in the summer. The first workshop takes place on Sunday evening. On Monday our schedule of four ninety-minute workshop sessions per day begin, the only exception being on Wednesday, when classes end at 1:00 p.m. and participants have an afternoon and evening off to explore. The week’s workshops conclude on Friday, July 12 at 4:00 p.m., but participants are invited to spend Friday night on campus (Friday dinner and Saturday breakfast are included).

The week includes a number of receptions, and one evening of readings by poets and fiction writers from Bard College and the local area. On Thursday evening, current participants enjoy (and take part in) a celebratory reading of works-in-progress from the week's workshops. 

The schedule allows some time to explore the scenic Mid Hudson Valley; participants can visit nearby historic sites such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home and library, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home at Val-Kill, and the painter Frederic Church’s home at Olana; or hike in the nearby Catskills. Bard College athletic facilities, including lovely walking paths, the Stevenson Gymnasium’s swimming pool, tennis and squash courts, and fitness center, are available to workshop participants (schedule here).  

SPECIAL NOTE FOR LAPTOP USERS: Not all dorms on campus have wi-fi, but all have internet connection (bring an ethernet cable, just in case). The Stevenson Library (wi-fi equipped) is available for particpant use during the week, as is the Henderson Computer Center.

Also on campus in July, Bard SummerScape performances at the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center for the Performing Arts and other venues bring together an extraordinary schedule of performing arts, featuring an international roster of acclaimed artists in a range of performances. Click here for more information.