2018 Workshop Dates: July 15-20

Minnowbrook Conference Center (see on map)

Special Topics Workshops are facilitated by Syracuse University faculty and are open to secondary educators for discipline-specific professional development experience. Certified SUPA instructors have the added option of enrolling in these workshops for SU graduate credit at a significantly reduced tuition rate.

The Advanced English workshops address current topics within the fields of literary, cultural, composition, and rhetorical studies—to communicate enhanced content knowledge and classroom pedagogy—as well as topics of broader significance for teachers in the arts and sciences, e.g., research strategies across the curriculum.

Workshop participants have the opportunity to enroll in one or two workshops during the five-day retreat. Syllabi, required textbook lists, and any course readers for the workshops will be sent to participants upon receipt of the registration form.

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2018 Workshops

ENG 600: Writing Counterstory (Martinez)

Counterstory is a writing and research method of Critical Race Theory, with historical foundations in creative nonfiction genres of oral history, personal narratives (autobiography, memoir, etc.), and testimony. As a narrative form, counterstory functions as a method for writers to craft from a base of personal experience toward review, reflection, and perhaps even critique of social institutions such as education, language policy, and citizenship/national belonging. Particularly in this workshop, participants will mine their life experiences for personal connections and engagement with “race” as a central topic. Thus, our work with writing counterstory will aim to intervene in and counter practices that dismiss or decenter racism and those whose lives are affected daily by it. Class sessions will alternate between: discussion of varying examples of the three types of counterstory, with examples to read by authors writing in these genres; trying our hand at writing counterstory and sharing our drafts with each other through workshops—I am open to incorporating past writing projects into the genre specifications of counterstory; discussion of how we might engage with students around creative nonfiction through readings, assignment prompts, research projects, and creative classroom activities inspired and informed by counterstory. This course will instruct on and concentrate on three genres of counterstory: 1) Counterstory as dialogue, 2) Counterstory as narration, 3) Counterstory as allegory.

ENG-600: Games in the Classroom (Hanson)

In late 2013, game designer Eric Zimmerman declared that we now inhabit the dawn of the “Ludic Century.” He argues that while the moving image became the dominant cultural form of the 20th century, linear media will increasingly be replaced by modular and participatory experiences facilitated by customizable game-like systems in the coming century. Zimmerman believes that being merely media-literate will no longer suffice as the ability to analyze, evaluate, and interpret these emergent game-like systems will be far more valuable. Students today play an increasing array of games but rarely are given the opportunity to critically analyze these play experiences or explore designing their own games. This seminar will focus on using games in the classroom, both as critical texts to interpret and as creative endeavors to foster student engagement. We will practice making our own games and play a range of existing games to explore differing play mechanics and strategies to encourage students to develop games that can creatively and critically engage with topics in ways that traditional papers cannot. Participants will: learn how to help foster skills to analyze and interpret analog and digital games; develop strategies for using games in the classroom as teaching and learning tools; explore methods to help students to build creative skills through designing games iteratively, from conceptualization to prototyping to playtesting.

2018 Faculty

Aja Martinez:  I conduct research on and teach a range of courses concerning rhetorics of race and ethnicity, including the rhetorics of race within both Western and non-Euro-Western contexts, and beginning, professional and advanced writing courses.

My single-authored monograph, Counterstory: The Writing and Rhetoric of Critical Race Theory currently under review in the series Studies in Writing and Rhetoric, presents counterstory as a method by which to actualize critical race theory (CRT) in rhetoric and composition studies research and pedagogy. I argue specifically that counterstory provides opportunities for other(ed) perspectives to contribute to conversations about narrative, dominant ideology, and their intersecting influence on curricular standards and institutional practices. Voices from the margins can become voices of authority through the formation of counterstories—stories that examine, document, and expose the persistence of racial oppression and other forms of subordination. Counterstory serves as a natural extension of inquiry for theorists whose research recognizes and incorporates lived and embodied experiences of marginalized peoples both in the U.S. and abroad. My method provides an interdisciplinary understanding of how counterstory functions, while accomplishing a further goal of establishing counterstory as a pedagogically employable method in writing classrooms.

Chris Hanson After completing a BA in Media Studies at Carleton College, Chris Hanson worked for a number of years in video game and software development, and later assisted with the planning and production of an educational series and content for PBS. Chris returned to academia in Los Angeles and received his MA and PhD in Critical Studies at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where his dissertation focused on replay and repetition in video games, television, and avant-garde film. Chris has been a HASTAC Scholar (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) and his work has appeared in Film Quarterly, Spectator, and Discourse.

His novel in progress, Rest for the Weary, is a meditation on prophecy, destiny, fate and the human condition.  He is also working on a nonfiction work, The Hoodoo Book of Flowers.  He considers having an online literary presence part of being a 21st Century literary man and has a blog, Rootsblog, a cyberhoodoo webspace.


About Minnowbrook

Syracuse University’s Minnowbrook Conference Center is an enchanting facility built in the rustic elegance of the Adirondack “Great Camp” tradition.

Room accommodations are spacious and comfortable. They will be designated single occupancy, unless registration numbers require room sharing. All meals will be provided by the kitchen staff at Minnowbrook, as will snacks throughout the day. Meals are gourmet quality and participants are guaranteed to never go hungry!

Recreational facilities—including a game room, workout equipment, tennis court, canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and rowboats—are available for participants, and of course, the Adirondacks themselves offer great opportunities for hiking and other outdoor sports.

For more details about the facility, visit www.minnowbrook.org.


2018 Workshop Fees & Tuition

Participants have several registration options for the Special Topics workshops. They may register for one or two workshops for professional development experience only, or qualified participants may register for one or two workshops as graduate courses bearing credit.

The fee structure for these options—which includes room and board, use of the Minnowbrook facilities, workshop fees, and graduate credit if applicable—is as follows:

One Workshop (no graduate credit) $1,365
Two Workshops (no graduate credit) $1,540
One Workshop (3 graduate credits*) $1,575
Two Workshops (6 graduate credits*) $1,960

* Includes the basic workshop fee plus tuition. Note: Graduate credit is optional, and this specially reduced tuition rate is available only to SUPA certified instructors. See directions on the Minnowbrook registration form for submitting the Graduate Credit Registration form, along with two separate payments: 1) the basic workshop fee and 2) the tuition amount.

Please note that in the event of low enrollment, individual workshops may be canceled.



To register for the Special Topics workshops, complete the application form and return it with your deposit ($75 for one workshop; $150 for two) by June 29, 2018 to:

Syracuse University Project Advance
400 Ostrom Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-3250

Download Registration Form


What do past Minnowbrook participants say about their experience?

“I can’t think of any situation where you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in not only a subject, but a place, that allows for the leisure to contemplate the world without distractions—a serenity that is very different from the hectic world of teaching in the high school in particular. This is the perfect time to lose yourself and do something that you love. Talking about books, talking about art, with people who have the same passion, the same interests, and so much experience to exchange.”

“During my free time, I spent a lot of time on the dock just listening to the water and reading for chunks of time. That’s one of the lures of Minnowbrook: time to think. And to read and to be uninterrupted. And to talk to people who are from all over, finding out what’s going on at other places.”

“Each of the years I’ve attended, I’ve come home with something I’ve been able to use directly in my classes and in my instruction. I’m getting materials and points of view that I didn’t have. The marriage of people from the high schools and Syracuse University in this particular program, which we’ve come to call an intellectual community, has the distinct advantage of giving us an opportunity to generalize our knowledge, to find out what things are like in other places, and to see what works in other places. It’s so refreshing: you come home and you have thought deeply about a variety of subjects and discussed them with a variety of very intelligent and very articulate and very well-read and informed people, and how can that be bad? It’s just a totally good time.”

“Well, first of all, the setting is so gorgeous. And you just feel at peace and relaxed. It becomes a very intense experience, because when you’re with a group of people and you’re in class with them for so many hours of the day, and then you sit down and have lunch with them, and you sit down at dinner with them, and you have breakfast with them, and you talk, continually, and the issues that come up in the class get hashed out again and again, new things get brought up over meals, and it’s just a very stimulating, and totally involving experience. And you come back very invigorated and with new ideas and ready to try new things.”

“The intellectual stimulation that you get here is incomparable. I mean you go to the faculty room and everybody complains about problems with the day-to-day routine, and you don’t get to discuss ideas at all or techniques that you would use in the classroom. Here, we talk about all kinds of things that we can try and that we’ve tried before that worked. It’s just a constant exchange of new ideas. It’s a totally new networking that is not normal in a high school room. Everybody here is just on an automatic cycle of exchange of ideas. And that’s what happens here all the time. Not just in a group meeting but while we’re on a hike up to Castle Rock or while we’re at dinner or after dinner.”

“This has some of the same benefits as any sort of camp provides. People get to come away. They get a retreat. And they come together with other people who are interested in the same issues, the same topic, the same inquiry, and they get to live, eat, breathe, and do this for however many hours of a day, so it’s a very short experience, but it’s a very intense experience. And the benefit comes not just from the content delivery, but from the kind of all-inclusive interaction. So there’s this constant flow of discussion, from one course to another, to issues in my school, to how am I going to do this unit of my course, and there’s this sort of seamless interaction for whatever period of time and that’s just remarkable. So you can call it camp but it’s a much more intense sort of professional interaction than any other venue I can imagine.”

“What brings me here? The opportunity to gain credit working with the Syracuse University program and the idea of it being concentrated in one week; other courses that I take are spread out over several months or they take up weekends and don’t feel as though they have the same continuity as they do here.”