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Shared Worlds program starts Sunday

Shared Worlds
2008-07-14

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Shared Worlds, a two-week residential creative writing camp offered by WoffordCollege to high school students, begins Sunday, July 20.

The program is the brainchild of lecturer Jeremy Jones, who first used a similar concept at a high school in Kentucky. The finished product he’ll bring to students at Wofford took shape after Jones brought up the idea to fellow professors Christine Dinkins and Steve Zides.

“The camp is broken into two parts,” explains Jones. “During the first week, groups of 12 students collaborate to build a world. In the second week they each write stories, design games and illustrate their shared world while maintaining consistency. The worlds will be displayed online using a wiki program so that students and parents can watch the world come to life.”

The camp puts a premium on space and limits the number of accepted students, which means a smaller group learning environment. It is designed to be an interdisciplinary creative writing camp. Students hone their problem solving skills and learn how to work together and contribute within the team concept.

“Wofford is attempting to provide creative intellectual experiences of the highest quality for talented young people,” said Boyce Lawton. “Shared Worlds is a pilot program aimed at doing so by combining writing, literature, technology, and the fantasy literary genre. We hope to introduce additional initiatives that are equally creative and intellectually stimulating in the years ahead and believe this will serve as a prototype for such development.”

Jones described his program.

“Each group of 12 students chooses a genre – science fiction or fantasy,” said Jones. “Then they create their imaginary world together, drawing on each other’s strengths and interests, whether it’s history or philosophy or science or something else. It all goes in there. They must compromise, work together and make hard decisions.

In order to build a shared world, students will attend overview classes with WoffordCollege professors in many disciplines, including history, religion, and physics. Furthermore, students will take classes in creative writing. All classes emphasize problem solving, collaborative learning, and experiential learning.

Students also will have the opportunity to learn from established professionals in the field, such as Jeff VanderMeer. VanderMeer is a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award and has also been a finalist for the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the International Horror Guild Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.

Other speakers include guests Tobias Buckell and Ekaterina Sedia, as well as Will Hindmarch, a game designer from Atlanta, and Doug Chaffee, an artist from Greenville, S.C.

The interdisciplinary aspect of the program makes it stand out, according to Jones.

“Some schools draw distinct lines between the disciplines--history is history, literature is literature, math is math,” he says, “but at Wofford, it's about cross-pollinating, about working together. Physics professors team up with poets and religion professors team teach with journalists. Sparks fly, and students benefit from that kind of energy in a classroom.”

Tuition for the program is $1,250, which includes accommodations, all meals, instruction, supervisory personnel, program material, activities, professional evaluation, and certificates.

For more information or to register for the camp, please visit the Shared Worlds Website.