UAlbany Honors State Writers Institute with Semester
Dedicated to Literary Arts
Institute's 20th Anniversary
Recalls its Goal, to "celebrate literature
and to enhance the role of writers"
Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 5, 2003) -- The University
at Albany will sponsor "The Writing Semester,"
an arts program featuring more than 50 cultural
events, in observance of the 20th anniversary
of the New York State Writers Institute. The semester,
co-sponsored by the Institute and the College
of Arts and Sciences, will include visits by humorist
Dave Barry and columnist Ellen Goodman, a dramatic
adaptation of Richard Russo’s novel Mohawk, and
the designation of the state author and state
"This is an unprecedented celebration of
the literary arts organized and offered to honor
the 20th anniversary of the founding of the New
York State Writers Institute," said Joan
Wick-Pelletier, dean of the College of Arts and
Sciences. "With The Writing Semester, we
not only celebrate the written word, but we also
pay tribute to the tremendous contribution that
the Institute has made to the educational resources
and cultural life at the University at Albany
and in the surrounding community."
"We are pleased that the College of Arts
and Sciences has chosen the written word to be
the theme of a semester's worth of programming,"
said Institute founder and Executive Director
William Kennedy. "Over the course of 20 years,
we have hosted over 600 artists, among them six
Nobel Prize winners and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners,
and have screened more than 500 films. And as
long as artists continue to write and be heard,
we will continue to showcase the very best that
the literary arts have to offer."
The Writers Institute, housed at the New Library
on UAlbany’s uptown campus, was founded by Pulitzer
Prize-winning novelist William Kennedy with part
of a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, funds that
were matched by the University at Albany. In 1984,
Gov. Mario M. Cuomo signed legislation creating
the Institute, giving it a mandate to provide
“a milieu for established and aspiring writers
to work together to increase the freedom of the
artistic imagination,” and “to encourage the development
of writing skills at all levels of education throughout
The Writers Institute has grown to become one
of the nation's foremost sites for showcasing
the written word. Numerous programs provide a
broad educational base for students of writing,
access to living authors for serious readers of
literature, enthusiastic audiences for visiting
writers, and important cultural initiatives for
the general public. “As the Institute continues
to grow,” said Donald Faulkner, its director since
1995, “our central aim is to celebrate literature
and to enhance the role of writers as a community
within the larger community.”
The Writing Semester follows recent theme semesters
on Albany Heritage and technology and the arts
and humanities. The theme of writing, said Wick-Pelletier,
“also meshes well with a new college initiative
to create a major in journalism, since several
of the scheduled events feature presentations
and panel discussions by well-known journalists.
We already have a large and ever-increasing number
of students who come to the University to take
courses in creative and journalistic writing.
The Writing Semester is sure to spur them on."
The Writing Semester kicks off Jan. 23 with a
screening of "The Color of Money," the
1986 film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring
Tom Cruise and Academy Award-winner Paul Newman.
The screening is followed on Jan. 27 with a seminar
and reading by novelist Richard Price, who wrote
the movie's screenplay, as well as seven novels,
his most recent, and Freedomland
The semester's activities conclude May 4 with
a reading by Barry, one of America's most popular
humor writers, whose satirical observations on
daily life in middle-class America earned him
the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Barry's
column is syndicated in more than 150 newspapers
nationwide, including several in the Capital Region.
Other Writing Semester events include:
- A performance by the Musicians of Ma'alwyck,
with readings by UAlbany Professor Leonard A.
Slade Jr., chair of UAlbany's Department of
Africana Studies, in honor of Black History
Month; Feb. 5.
- A panel discussion: "Journalism: The
State of the Art," featuring journalists
Jack Hitt, Marion Roach and Gary Taubes; Feb.
- The State Author and State Poet Award Ceremony
and Reading; March 4.
- A reading by Iris Chang, acclaimed author
of the best-selling nonfiction book "The
Rape of Nanking" and her newest book, "The
Chinese in America"; April 14.
- A screening of the 1923 silent film "The
Hunchback of Notre Dame" with live piano
accompaniment; April 23.
- A reading by Haitian -American writer Edwidge
Danticat, author of the collection of short
fiction Krik? Krak!
which was nominated for a National Book Award,
and other works; April 26.
For a full schedule of events, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit www.albany.edu/writers-inst/writingsemester.html,
or call (518) 442-5620. All events are free and
open to the public unless otherwise noted.