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*MU Writing Workshop in Greece

Thasos, Greece ; Thessaloniki, Greece

IntroductionAcademicsLocation Faculty Program Director CostsDatesApplication


The MU International Center and Department of English will offer their summer faculty-led programs in Greece during summer 2013. MU Professor Scott Cairns and his colleagues will lead a four-week, six credit hour program that is open to both MU and non-MU undergraduate and graduate students. The program is also offered to non-MU participants as a not-for-credit writing workshop.

The program will immerse students in the literary life of contemporary Greece. In addition to attending daily seminars, students will have the option to focus on a single genre in one of the following concurrent workshops:

  • Poetry: Carolyn Forché
  • Fiction: Ron Hansen
  • Travel/Food Writing: Christopher Bakken
  • Playwriting: David Crespy

The curriculum offers students the opportunity to improve their writing skills and participate in literary exchanges while experiencing everyday life in Thessaloniki and Thasos.



All for-credit participants (both undergraduate and graduate) will enroll in:

ENGL 4179/7179: Summer Seminars in Greece (3) includes an introduction to modern Greek language, tours of the Byzantine Musesum, the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, the Archaeological museum, area archaeological sites, visits to monastic enclaves and a range of evening cultural and literary events designed to immerse participants in literary and cultural life in northern Greece.

Each participant will choose one of the following (3 credits each):

ENGL 4510/7510: Advanced Fiction Writing (3), led by Ron Hansen, will be an intensive and advanced short story workshop focusing predominantly on structure, metaphor, image, voice and the many modes of meaning available to us: the narrative, the associative, the lyric, etc. Students will pay particular attention to the way the physical world gives us the tools (and, incidentally, the courage) to tell our most profound truths, and to write stories that will move readers by activating not just their minds, but their senses. Henry James said a writer should strive to be a person on whom nothing is lost, and Greece will provide endless opportunities to pay attention, countless ways to think about the ways physical and emotional landscapes can interact, maybe even a new way to think about time. In addition to student work, participants will read and discuss published fiction of place. Course designation: writing-intensive.

ENGL 4520/7520: Advanced Nonfiction Prose (Travel and Food Writing) (3) will be led by Christopher Bakken. Following a study of exemplary works (among them: Patrick Leigh Fermor's Mani, Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi, and pieces by M.F.K. Fisher), students will venture into the landscapes, markets and kitchens of Serifos in order to produce several short pieces of their own, which will be critiqued in a workshop setting, and subsequently revised for submission to periodicals. Course designation: writing-intensive.

ENGL 4530/7530: Advanced Poetry Writing (3) will be led by Carolyn Forché. In this poetry workshop students will concentrate on generating as many poems as possible, so as to create a poetic record of their individual first responses to Greece. Then students will have a body of work to build upon and revise when they return to the U.S. Writing exercises will be assigned, and reading will be a key generative and exploratory tool. Participants will discuss Greek poets from Sappho to C.P. Cavafy and Yiannis Ritsos, as well as English-speaking poets who write about their experiences in Greece. Course designation: writing-intensive.

ENGL 4560/7560: Playwriting (3) will be led by David Crespy. Dreamwork for playwriting is an organic approach to non-realistic, "magic" dramatic style. This approach will be paired with an emphasis on the adaptation of Greek myth, dramaturgy and structure, as a means to explore character, plot, dialogue and theatrically. Reading will include plays from the anthology "Divine Fire: Eight Contemporary Plays Inspired by the Greeks," edited by playwright Caridad Svich, with some additional plays from the canon of Sephardic Jewish drama. Student may focus on writing a new full-length play, several one-act plays, or revision and development of current plays that tie to Greek themes and culture.

Academic Credit

All students will be enrolled in actual MU courses. All students are guaranteed to receive MU credit for successfully completed courses; however, students must work with their academic adviser(s) to obtain pre-approval as to how courses might fulfill degree requirements.

MU Students: Grades will calculate into students' MU GPAs and appear on students' MU transcripts when grades are recorded by the Faculty Program Director. Students must work with their academic adviser(s) to obtain pre-approval as to how the courses might fulfill degree requirements.

Non-MU/Visiting Students: Transcripts will be issued from MU and can be mailed to students' home universities. Students must work with their home universities to determine how credit from the program will transfer. The MU International Center will issue ONE transcript per student to one domestic address, as indicated on the student's Non-MU Student Application for Study Abroad. Additional MU transcripts for study abroad must be requested and purchased from the MU Registrar.

Non-Credit Participants: Please contact Becky Triatik for more information about the non-credit option for the program. NOTE: This option is not available to students from the University of Missouri.


Host Program

The University of Missouri Department of English sponsors this Summer Writing Workshop in northern Greece. MU Professor Scott Cairns and his colleagues will lead a four-week program that will immerse students in the literary life of contemporary Greece in a region still influenced by its Byzantine past. In addition to attending daily seminars, students will have the option to focus on a single genre of writing.

Students will first be introduced to modern Greece and its Byzantine history through cultural activities and visits to historical sites near Thessaloniki. The group will then relocate to the island of Thasos for the following three weeks, returning to Thessaloniki for the final three days of the program. The session will offer students an opportunity to improve their writing skills and participate in literary exchanges while experiencing everyday life on a beautiful Greek island.

Accommodations and Meals

In Thessaloniki, students and faculty will stay at the Hotel El Greco in the center of the city on the historic Egnatia Boulevard. This hotel provides shared rooms with private baths. On Thasos, students will stay at Arhodissa, a family-owned pension nestled along the island's southern shore. The pension offers shared rooms and private baths as well. Additional options may be available -- please ask the study abroad adviser if interested. Breakfasts will be provided daily at both locations, and three communal dinners are included in the program cost; students will be responsible for all other meals on their own. Thessaloniki offers a wide array of dining options at prices suiting any budget; on Thasos, meals will be taken at the Archontissa Restaurant, where the pension hosts run a very affordable taverna/restaurant.

Host City and Surrounding Areas

Greece in general -- and Thessaloniki in particular -- is a matchless repository of history, art and culture. As the birthplace of some of the most significant philosophers and writers, Greece offers an excellent environment for the study of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and spiritual writing. Northern Greece remains the heart of Makedonian and Byzantine cultures, a complex past which continues to powerfully affect the present. The country is also recognized for its beautiful islands that include some of the most sought-after tourist destinations in the world.

Founded in 315 B.C.E., Thessaloniki has long served as an example of peaceful coexistence among diverse cultures. Until the tragedy of World War II, Orthodox Christians, Jews and Muslims lived and thrived side by side in a city that still bears architectural and cultural evidence of those populations, as well as more recent cosmopolitan additions from througout Eastern Europe, Africa and the Subcontinent. In order to better prepare for the cultural diversity awaiting you, we recommend that you acquire and read the following book prior to departure: "Salonika, City of Ghosts: Chrisitians, Moslems, and Jews 1430-1950."

Besides such historical and cultural richness, the city and the surrounding regions (Makedonia and Halkidiki) are among the most lush and beautiful lands in all of Greece. Halkidiki -- where the island of Thasos is located -- is also home to Mount Athos (Agion Oros, or Holy Mountain) where Byzantine culture and the mystical theology and practice of Orthodox worship has continued since before the 9th century. Countless other monastic enclaves (for both men and women) are to be found throughout this region, including the Monastery of Archangel Michael, which is but 100 meters down the road from our pension on Thasos.


Students will travel with the group but they will have opportunities to explore some sites independently during their time abroad.

Travel might include visits to:

  • The Byzantine Museum
  • Mount Athos (for interested men)
  • Ormylia and the Convent of the Annunciation (for interested women)
  • The Central Market and Ladadika
  • The White Tower, a Byzantine fortress
  • The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki
  • The Archaeological Museum
  • The Arch of Galerius, a Roman monument

Tentative Itinerary

  • June 8: Arrive in Thessaloniki; organizational meeting
  • June 9: Jewish Museum, Byzantine Museum, Welcome Dinner in Thessaloniki
  • June 10: Walking tours of central Thessaloniki and major Byzantine Churches
  • June 11: Travel by bus to Keramoti and by boat to Thasos; Welcome dinner in Thasos
  • June 12-July 3: Monday-Thursday schedule: Greek classes 10-12:30 am, Workshops 2-5:00 pm, and evening events at 8:00 pm; Friday-Sunday schedule: Free days
  • July 3: Greek class, Workshops, Farewell dinner in Thasos, Dancing
  • July 4: Travel by boat to Keramoti, and by bus to Thessaloniki
  • July 5: Farewell dinner in Thessaloniki
  • July 7: End of Program; earliest departure

Faculty Program Director

University of Missouri faculty member Scott Cairns, MU Department of English, will direct the program, and will be accompanied by a faculty of Greek and American writers who will teach courses focused on fiction, non-fiction, poetry and modern Greek language and culture.

Faculty-led programs enrich the study abroad experience as well as the MU campus by providing students opportunities to study other cultures and disciplines in depth while gaining new perspectives on our own society.

Program Director

Scott CairnsScott Cairns is Professor of English at the University of Missouri. He is also Director of MU Writing Workshops in Greece. His poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Image, Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, etc., and both have been anthologized in multiple editions of "Best American Spiritual Writing." He is a regular blogger for the religion section of The Huffington Post, and provides a podcast for Ancient Faith Radio. His most recent poetry collection is "Compass of Affection." His spiritual memoir, "Short Trip to the Edge," and his translations, "Love's Immensity," appeared in 2007. His book-length essay, "The End of Suffering," appeared in 2009. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006, and is Catherine Paine Middlebush Chair in English at MU. He is completing a new collection of poems, "Idiot Psalms," and a new selection of patristic works on prayer — adaptations from "The Philokalia" and elsewhere — called "Descending to the Heart."

Poetry Instructor

Carolyn ForcheCarolyn Forché is a poet, translator and editor of the ground-breaking anthology "Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness," collecting the work of poets who endured conditions of extremity during the past century. She has also published four award-winning books of poetry and three books of poetry in translation. Her poetry has been translated into over twenty languages and she has given poetry readings throughout the United States and the world. A human rights activist for over thirty years, she was presented in 1998 with the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for Peace and Culture in Stockholm for her work on behalf of human rights and the preservation of memory and culture. She has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has taught poetry and literature for 35 years, and holds the Lannan Chair of Poetry at Georgetown University, where she also directs the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.

Fiction Instructor

HansenRon Hansen was educated in English literature at Creighton University, then studied fiction writing at the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop and at Stanford University, where he held a Wallace Stegner Creative Writing Fellowship. He is the author of eight novels, including "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Mariette in Ecstasy," "Exiles" and "A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion," as well as a children's book and "A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction." He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim, Lyndhurst and Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest foundations. Twice nominated as a PEN/Faulkner Award, he was a finalist for the National Book Award for his novel "Atticus," and is a recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Scribner will publish "She Loves Me Not: New and Selected Stories" in November 2012. Married to the novelist Bo Caldwell, Hansen is the Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J. Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Santa Clara University.

Travel/Food Writing Instructor

Christopher BakkenChristopher Bakken lived in Greece in the early 1990s and has returned to Greece obsessively ever since. He is the author of two books of poetry, "Goat Funeral" (2006) and "After Greece" (for which he was awarded the 2001 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry). He is also co-translator of "The Lions' Gate: Selected Poems of Titos Patrikios." He has been awarded the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and the Helen C. Smith Memorial Prize for Poetry, and he served as a Fulbright Scholar at University of Bucharest. His recipes and his essays on Greek culture and cuisine can be found in Odyssey magazine, The Art of Eating, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Food & Wine, Cooking Light and comprise the core of his new book from the University of California Press: "Honey, Olives, Octopus: Adventures at the Greek Table." He is Associate Professor of English at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania.

Playwriting Instructor

CrespyDavid Crespy is professor of playwriting, acting and dramatic literature, founder and co-director of the Writing for Performance program for the University of Missouri Department of Theatre and artistic director of its Missouri Playwrights Workshop. He is the resident playwright for First Run Theatre, Inc. of St. Louis. His plays have been developed and produced at theaters across the United States. His articles have appeared in Theatre History Studies, New England Theatre Journal, Latin American Theatre Review, The Dramatist, Slavic and East European Performance and His most recent book is "Richard Barr: The Playwright's Producer" (SIU Press, March 2013), about Broadway producer Richard Barr, with a foreword and afterword by Edward Albee. His current book project is "Dreamwrighting: Dreakwork for Dramatic Writing for Stage and Screen."


Program Budget

Additional Expenses

In addition to the program costs paid to MU, you will have expenses associated with international travel and living abroad. The amounts listed are estimated costs based on current exchange rates and on the information provided to us by your host institution and past participants. Depending on your personal spending habits, you may spend more or less than the figures provided.

Please note that these expenses do not include vacation travel or sightseeing.

Financial Aid Information

If you are awarded financial aid for study abroad, it will be applied to your MU account according to the regular financial aid disbursement schedule. Reminder: You must be enrolled in study abroad and have completed the required financial aid forms for study abroad in order to be considered for aid.

Because non-resident tuition charges apply, MU students should be eligible to use non-resident scholarship towards the program costs.

Dates and Deadlines

Term Application Deadline Decision Date Program Start Program End

We anticipate this program will be offered again in Summer 2015.


We are delighted that you are applying to study abroad. This is the first step of your journey, and while there is a lot to do, it should not be overwhelming. Once you apply for the program, you will have an electronic checklist to help you through the process. In addition, our study abroad staff are available to answer your questions.

  1. Meet with the MU International Center study abroad adviser for your program or country of interest.
  2. If you are an MU Student, start an application in using the button below. Non-MU students should visit our page for Non-MU participants for more information about the application process. Please note:
    • Once you have started an application, you can login again using the myStudyAbroad button above.
    • By starting an application you will incur a $50 application fee, even if you do not complete your application.
  3. Complete your application. There will be several documents that need to be completed for the application. While specific requirements vary by program, a typical application consists of the following:
    • Material submissions - Printable forms which require the physical submission of materials.
    • Signature Documents - Items you may digitally sign (if you are over 18 years of age) to indicate your agreement and understanding.
    • Recommendation Forms - Recommendations may be submitted electronically by MU faculty and staff.
    • Application Questionnaires - Items that you complete and submit electronically online.
      • Application Certification/FERPA waiver
      • Essay
      • International Center Scholarship Application
      • Recommendation FERPA waiver

This program is not currently accepting applications.

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