Press Release: Writers’ Institute Adds Fiction to Successful Non-Fiction Program

Four major fiction editors have been recruited by the Writers’ Institute at the CUNY Graduate Center for a new fiction-writing program modeled after a successful, innovative program for creative non-fiction launched in 2007. Joining the Institute for the academic year beginning in September, 2010, are Jonathan Galassi, editor in chief of Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Deborah Treisman, fiction editor of The New Yorker; Nathaniel Rich, senior editor of The Paris Review; and John Freeman, editor of Granta.

The Writers’ Institute is distinguished by its emphasis on studying with top-level editors, as opposed to writer-oriented faculty in other programs. Faculty for the existing non-fiction program includes Dorothy Wickenden, executive editor of The New Yorker; Sam Tanenhaus, editor of The New York Times Book Review and Week in Review; Daniel Menaker, editorial consultant for The Random House Publishing Group; Klara Glowczewska, editor in chief of Condé Nast Traveler; Jonathan I. Landman, culture editor of The New York Times; Michael W. Miller, deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal; and Robert Messenger, senior editor of The Weekly Standard; among others.          

Classes are small. The non-fiction program accepts 15 students; another 15 will be accepted in the fiction program. A one-year course of study -- capped by a certificate -- includes two weekly workshops of two hours each per semester, informal mentoring, and lectures by invited speakers from the publishing world. Tuition is $11,000. The selection of talented students is competitive, based on three writing samples, a statement of preparation, experience, and aspirations, and two letters of recommendation.

“If you’re not sure you’re a creative writer, you should go into an MFA program,” says André Aciman, an acclaimed author who founded the Institute and chairs the Graduate Center’s comparative literature Ph.D. program. “The Institute is for people who already know they are writers but who want to attain a higher level of professionalism by studying intensively with working editors.” For more information, see

Courses at the Institute are designed to address both creative ambitions and real-world practicalities. “If you want to publish in the mainstream, you need to know what professional editors want and what their standards are,” Aciman says. “You get to know the people who read, buy, and commission manuscripts. We’re not a literary agency, but we like to see our people publishing in major venues.”

The goal of the Institute is not to favor a particular style of fiction or a particular area of non-fiction, Aciman notes, but to encourage students to explore the range of possibilities offered by print and online media. Graduates of the non-fiction program have placed their work in a variety of print publications and online sites such as The New York Times Sunday Magazine, GQ, The New Republic, Slate, Salon, The Chronicle of Higher Education,, and The Village Voice.

The Graduate Center is devoted primarily to doctoral studies and awards most of the City University of New York’s Ph.D.s. An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to more than thirty interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns.  Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events.  Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at

Submitted on: DEC 1, 2009

Category: Comparative Literature | English | Press Room