Summer Programs in Greece

Myth & The Art of Storytelling: Reading and Writing in Greece

  • An English course unlike any other: discuss contemporary fiction and poetry (written in English) alongside the Greek myths that inspired these modern authors.

  • 2014 highlight! Reading and seminar by award-winning author Jim Shepard, this year’s guest faculty member.

  • Visit ancient sites and modern landmarks in an itinerary drawn from the pages of the course readings.

  • Explore your own writing in a weeklong workshop on the beautiful island of Aegina. View complete syllabus.


Walk in Aristotle’s footsteps as we discuss a novel about his years as tutor to Alexander the Great. Find Helen of Troy in the pages of modern books and in the ruins of the hilltop shrine where she was worshipped. Let the poetry of Rainer Marie Rilke be your guide in the National Museum.

And in 2014 only, look out over the plain of Marathon with author Jim Shepard, whose acclaimed short story My Aeschylus gives a riveting account of the battle there in 490 B.C.

This course is intended for enthusiastic readers, and for anyone interested in encountering Greece in a unique way: both on the page and underfoot.

In the two first weeks, you will take a literary odyssey, reading literature inspired by Greek myth and history while traveling through those fabled landscapes.

Then escape to a Greek island for a writing retreat. The workshop offers a chance for writers of any level to come together in a close and supportive community. Beginners are welcome, and experienced writers can expect a high level of critique and discourse.

Course Structure

The program will begin in Athens, where we’ll explore myths that continue to shape the way we think about love, war, family, sacrifice, politics, friendship, place, honor, even storytelling itself. Then we’ll start looking at the way those stories have been reconsidered in current literature. We’ll meet inside the classroom but also at points of interest around the city suggested by our reading, including museums, archaeological sites, and monuments.

We’ll also take longer journeys, through the terrains of the stories and novels we’re reading, to the battleground of Marathon in Attica, the archaeological sites of Corinth, Mycenae, and Sparta, the home of the oracle at the mountainside shrine at Delphi, and the vibrant seaside city of Nafplio, among others.

Then we’ll ferry to Aegina, an island in the Saronic Gulf, to take up residence in a secluded 19th century villa (a few steps from the beach). Students will exchange writing in a thoughtful and friendly environment, with short readings, conversations about craft, writing exercises, and time and space to create new work. The workshop will be designed to accommodate writers at all stages; experienced writers are invited to bring up to 15 pages of prose (or 3 poems) in advance, and beginners will have a chance to experiment after a few weeks in the birthplace of the muses.


Author Jim ShepardSpecial Guest Instructor, Jim Shepard
JIM SHEPARD is the author of six novels, including most recently Project X, and four story collections, including You Think That’s Bad (Knopf). His third collection, Like You’d Understand, Anyway, was a finalist for the National Book Award and won The Story Prize. Project X won the 2005 Library of Congress/Massachusetts Book Award for Fiction, as well as the ALEX Award from the American Library Association. His short fiction has appeared in, among other magazines, Harper’s, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, DoubleTake, the New Yorker, Granta, Zoetrope: All-Story, and Playboy, and he was a columnist on film for the magazine The Believer. Four of his stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories, and one for a Pushcart Prize. He teaches at Williams College and in the Warren Wilson MFA program, and lives in Williamstown.

Course Instructor, Nalini Jones
NALINI JONES is the author of What You Call Winter (Knopf), a story collection set in a Catholic neighborhood in India. She is a recent recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship in fiction, a Pushcart Prize, and in 2013, an O. Henry prize. Her fiction has appeared in One Story, Ontario Review, and Elle India, among others, and her essays in Ninth Letter, The Common, Vogue India, and various anthologies. She has spent the last decade teaching undergraduate and graduate writers at Columbia University and Fairfield University, and has also led classes for writers of all ages and interests – from professionals at the 92nd Street Y to children in elementary school. She has traveled extensively through Greece, and is currently at work on a novel.


You will earn 3 credits for this summer term.


You will stay in student apartments in Athens, shared hotel rooms while on the road and a beautiful 19th century villa on the island of Aegina for the writing workshop.

Admission Requirements

GPA Requirements: 2.75 on a 4.0 scale.

You must be in good academic standing and not on disciplinary probation. You need to submit a complete application including a transcript, letter of recommendation and an advisor's form before your application will be considered.

Application Deadline

  • March 31


For more information about this summer program, please contact your Program Manager, Chris Callas, at