Writing courses

New writing studios provide space to create and collaborate

In creating the new writing studios that opened this semester on Brooklyn’s Pratt campus, the Department of Writing at the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences wanted to be sure they served the needs of students, whether they were the first year of a bachelor’s degree or pursuing an MFA. While some students might want quiet areas to immerse themselves in a project, others might use spaces to gather and brainstorm ideas. The ministry, led by the president of the Beth Loffreda, involved students in designing the first-ever dedicated studios for the program.

“Student input was the biggest part in determining what these spaces were going to look like and how they were going to function,” said Katherine Barbadoro, assistant to the chair of the writing department. “There were lots of conversations with the students about what they felt was missing in their studio practice and also how a community space could facilitate their writing work. We have a lot of different types of spaces, and they support different types of writing practices.

Writing Department faculty books in the writing studios library

One of the flexible spaces in writing studios

One of the flexible spaces in writing studios

Studios include individual Cour Canonnier workspaces, lounge-style rooms with soft chairs and ottomans for more collaborative work, writing teachers’ offices, computer labs, a library, and a maker’s space . They are open to students 24 hours a day.

“I wasn’t sure if I would work there a lot, given that I live so close to campus,” said Kayla Jannetti, BFA Writing ’24. “Everything changed quite quickly after using the different spaces offered in the studios. Personally, I favor community space as I am very easily distracted when writing, so working with a friend or two in a small space allows us to bounce off each other’s ideas and work effectively.

The BFA and MFA programs include approximately 101 students. They can use all the resources of the studios, which helps to create connections between class years and programs, as well as a sense of community.

“The writing department is so open and makes it a safe space for everyone, which is really amazing,” said Tahlia Amanson, BFA Writing ’25. “I’m thrilled that the studios are building a community because almost everyone I know in writing is freshmen. I think it’s a great place to be able to meet sophomores, juniors, seniors and others and be intertwined in our work and also get a sense of what the next few years are going to look like.

The maker space in the writing studios

The maker space in the writing studios

The distinct needs of different years of students are taken into account in the studios, such as the critique sessions in the MFA program which are modeled on those of an art school and the accessibility of the studios for BFA students living in living rooms. While the department offers courses in fabric bookmaking, graphic novels, and digital poetry, the studios take an inclusive approach to what writing can be. A creative space supports the department’s interdisciplinary focus, with materials such as vintage typewriters and collage paper, while a free copy room allows students to create zines or other publications of do-it-yourself. A planned podcasting space will provide another space for projects like spoken word or combining music and writing.

“One thing the writing department prides itself on is that we provide students with great flexibility in terms of writing averages, formats and means,” Barbadoro said. “We don’t encourage them to just stick poetry or prose or non-fiction. We really want them to work in all of these things. Related to this, we encourage multidisciplinary writing projects that do not privilege one form of expression over another.”

A collaborative space to post events in writing studios

A collaborative space to post events in writing studios

This includes installations and studio interventions, such as a recently installed piece by Cassandra Bristow, BFA Writing ’22, which covers a wall in a conference room with poetry and artificial flora. Outside the writing studios in Canonnier’s courtyard is the Textile Dye Garden, where Styling students are planting and growing flowers and other plants for natural dyes. Writing students can easily join dyeing workshops or keeping in the garden readings. The hallways of the writing studios are also a common space for sharing flyers about happenings on campus and beyond students in the local writing scene. For example, visiting assistant professor Laura Henriksen is involved in the Poetry Project based at St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, and writing students design and complete “fieldwork residencies” with literary collectives. around town, such as the Nuyorican Poets Café and Subway Wendy. The Editorial Department also has an ongoing partnership with the Octavia Project community organization, and this summer will host their summer workshop in the studios and creator space.

Writing studios continue to evolve, with students being encouraged to bring in posters, artwork, or other objects to make the space their own. They will change with each incoming class as they find ways to express their voices and visions in a place that encourages experimentation with words.