July 8 - August 2, 2019 (4 weeks)

Develop your voice in a peer-driven and supportive workshop setting that focuses on creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and scriptwriting across four weeks. You’ll gain access to published authors and professional editors as you sharpen your skills and expand your imagination. Focus on one writing area per week and choose one Art, Media + Design elective that lets you explore an area of interest or discover new media.

The Process

Writing prompts and observational exercises throughout Philadelphia drive discussion and critique.  Cross-disciplinary electives and collaborations allow you to explore an area of strength or branch out into something new, equipping you to tell your unique story. 

The Perks

Instructors and guest writers share advice for unlocking what you’re trying to say, and mentors provide critical feedback during evening workshopping sessions.  You’ll also participate in weekly workshops and roundtable discussions with Philadelphia’s literary scene.

The Proof

Over the course of the program, you’ll develop a robust, multi-genre portfolio that will be included in the Summer Institute Creative Writing Journal. Participate in a public reading for friends, family, and peers.  Walk away with detailed feedback from instructors and  3 college credits .

Writing students participate in a series of core writing classes as well as one Art, Media + Design elective.  

Creative Writing core classes meet daily.  Focusing on one genre per week, you will develop a strong foundation across creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and scriptwriting. Workshops and courses are complemented by visits from nationally recognized writers.

The Art, Media + Design elective allows you the opportunity to explore an arts-focused course and encourages interdisciplinary collaboration between the Creative Writing and Art, Media + Design programs.  Art, Media + Design electives meet Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.   

Interdisciplinary Evening Workshops

Students may elect to participate in Interdisciplinary Evening Workshops on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  Topics may include acting for the screen, dance/performance for beginners, music + sound art, taxidermy, drawing 101, vocal lab, lyrics + poetry, d.i.y. digital media, film screenings, and more.

Core Classes

Creative writing students will focus on four writing genres—one per week.

As many acclaimed writers have demonstrated, nonfiction doesn’t have to mean a history lesson. Learn to apply flourish and expression that add credibility to actual events—starting with the events of your own life—which will morph from memories to short written works.

Conjuring up a plot is one thing; executing it effectively is another. Merge your ideas with exacting delivery by developing the elements and subtleties that transform a compelling anecdote, thought, or observation into enduring prose.

Learn to distinguish effective poems from the poorly executed or clichéd. Examine and dissect contemporary work while developing critical vocabulary and expressing yourself in powerful new ways.

Imagine your work leaping off the page and onto the big screen—or stage. Writing successfully for film, television, and stage requires a strong understanding of screenplay and theatrical conventions. This course introduces you to the basic sequences and structures that shape these thriving genres. Collaborate with professional actors and walk away with the tools to write feature-length stage and screen projects.


Students will have the opportunity to participate in an elective of their choosing on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Choose one elective from the following:


Drawing is the most basic, rudimentary art and design tool — and it is a fundamental component of all creative disciplines. If you have not had formal training in drawing, here's the place to start. Instruction will focus on drawing from life, including still life, models, and landscape. You'll explore foundational drawing techniques such as light, shadow, rendering, perspective, and composition. Working in classical media such as pencil, charcoal, and ink, you'll develop essential observational skills while learning about the various contemporary applications for drawing.

Figure Drawing* 

Drawing the figure is both challenging and rewarding — and can be crucial for many forms of artmaking and design. This course will allow you to focus exclusively on articulating the human form on a 2D surface. Instruction and demonstrations will help you develop observational skills as well as strategies for checking for accuracy. You’ll primarily work from skeletons and models as you learn basic anatomy and skeletal structure, gesture, volume and foreshortening to gain knowledge of figuration that you can utilize for future projects or apply to other media. Prior drawing experience is helpful for this course.

Film Criticism

Learn to watch movies with a critical eye. Through a wide selection of film screenings, you'll enhance your ability to absorb and critically evaluate movies. Instructor-led class discussions will prompt you to identify and analyze cinematic conventions including camera positioning, lighting, shot duration, dialogue, sequencing, and narrative.  Develop a critical vocabulary as you work individually and collaboratively to compose thoughtful written responses to various films.  This class is for future filmmakers, artists, critics, and writers.


Learn the D.I.Y. medium of dissemination that Andy Warhol famously stole from industrial production processes and transformed into an art form. Grasp the basics of screenprinting, from setup and screen prep to image transferring and printing. Learn to screenprint posters, zines, bags, apparel and more. This empowering course will give you the tools to print your imagery, pattern, logo or message on items of your choice.

Sketchbooks: Experiments + Field Notes

Artists have been filling sketchbooks for centuries with internal explorations, observational notes, and material trials. In this course, learn to use your sketchbook as a visual journal for observation and invention to develop your creative voice. You'll bind your own sketchbook and fill its pages with your own experiments. Projects and demos will include experimenting with paint pens, markers, ink, and cut paper, and field trips to various sites in Philadelphia will encourage you to work from life and your imagination. 

Street Photography

Follow in the footsteps of pioneering street photographers such as Eugène Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson — and contemporary artists like Vivian Maier, Diane Arbus, and Bill Cunningham — by capturing the city’s spirit through your lens. Explore camera control along with essential photographic concepts such as “the decisive moment”. You’ll put these concepts to use on walking trips to local Philadelphia parks, markets, and galleries, where you’ll transform the conventional into the exceptional and hone your distinct perspective of the world around you. Previous experience using a camera is preferred for this course.

Sculpture + Installation

Sculpture incites physical sensation and emotional response through the manipulation of materials, scale, and space. Delve into the process of producing art in 3-D, from concept and studio experiments to selecting materials and execution. Projects will prompt you to explore your own interests in objects while learning technical skills for composing and constructing sculptural works.

Visual Storytelling

How can a story be conveyed in the most impactful way? In this class, you’ll learn how to use visual elements to tell stories more effectively. You’ll explore the craft of visual storytelling by dissecting non-traditional story forms ranging from comics to photojournalism to digital multimedia formats. Investigate how elements such as format, style, sequence, pacing, and editorial choices affect stories and drive meaning. This course focuses on writing exercises, drawing, mapping, and storyboarding using pen and ink, graphite, and watercolor, as well as experimental media such as DIY photo/video. At the end of the course, you’ll have stories and concept drawings that showcase your visual voice for use in a portfolio or future project. This class is perfect for students interested in film, animation, illustration, photography, writing, graphic design, game design, or any form of visual storytelling.

Writing for Comics

This course is perfect for students interested in storytelling through comics, graphic novels, animation, illustration, and creative writing.  Course details coming soon. 

*Note: Nude figure models will be used in drawing and painting courses

Summer 2019 Faculty Include

David Jacobi head shot
David Jacobi

Theater - Directing, Playwriting + Production
Script Writing
Les Robinson

Fiction Writing, Creative Non-Fiction Writing
Michelle Taransky

  1. Review the Creative Writing application requirements
  2. Complete the application, including personal statement, and submit the program deposit online or by mail.  Start your application     
We learned to dig deeper and more truthfully into ourselves and our stories.
— SI 2017 Creative Writing student


Request more info

Contact Pre-College
Pre-College Programs
211 S. Broad St, Terra Hall 909
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 717 - 6430