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A Writer's Companion

Rubin Writing Semester in Creative Writing

Hollins offers a one-semester intensive program in creative writing and modern literature every spring for undergraduate students from other institutions.

The program is named in honor of Louis D. Rubin Jr., the nation's best-known scholar and publisher of southern literature. Rubin taught English at Hollins from 1957 to 1967 and founded the graduate program in creative writing here. He went on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he founded Algonquin Books, the publishing house known for championing talented southern writers.

Rubin Writers join other student writers and a faculty of regularly publishing novelists, short story writers, poets, and scholars.


Finding your voice

Many of our graduates have made a name for themselves in the literary world. Among them:

  • Annie Dillard, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Tinker of Pilgrim Creek
  • Lee Smith, author of many novels, among them The Last Girls, Fair and Tender Ladies, Family Linen, Oral History, Saving Grace
  • Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of A Woman of Independent Means
  • Shannon Ravenel, former editorial director for Algonquin Books
  • Jenny Boully, author of Book of Beginnings and Endings and The Body: An Essay
  • Liana Camper-Berry '09 (who writes under the name of Liana Quill), one of three winners of the first Mississippi Review Poetry Series contest for her book Fifty Poems.

Jackson Professor of Creative Writing and Professor of English Jeanne Larsen, whose novels Bronze Mirror and Silk Road have been Book-of-the-Month Club selections, says, "Getting to know others who are committed to the pleasures and challenges of the writing life is one of the great benefits of studying at Hollins." Larsen adds, "Hollins writing workshops are famous for their quirky blend of support, good cheer, and honest and helpful criticism."

The Literary Festival in March and the English department's regular series of readings by published writers provide more opportunities to get to know how (as Gertrude Stein put it) writing is written. Anita Thompson, a graduate of Hollins and former Hoyns Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Virginia, says that Hollins "is a place where you get to work with writers — both professors and other students — in an 'up close and personal' setting." Thompson, who began publishing her fiction in national publications when she was a junior, adds that "Hollins gave me the chance not only to study other writers, but also to study and develop my own style."


To apply

Admission to the program is competitive and requires submission of a manuscript (10 to 30 pages of poetry, fiction, or both), two letters of recommendation, preferably including from an instructor familiar with the student's writing, and a transcript. The program is offered during the spring term, and the application deadline is October 31.

Visiting student writers take a full semester of coursework (four, 4-credit courses), including writing workshops, creative writing electives, and intermediate or advanced courses related to individual interests, at least one of which should be in 20th- and 21st-century literature.

Send application materials to: Rubin Writing Committee, Hollins University, P.O. Box 9707, Roanoke, VA 24020.