Since 1979, the Madwomen in the Attic program has valued women’s work as writers, dreamers and architects of society, advocating for and empowering a diverse community of women by creating a space for writing, the open exchange of ideas, and the reading and publication of women’s literature.

We value the underserved literary community of women writers, regardless of age, race, class, or education. We believe that women’s writing is a necessity and that access to a space to create, the process of mentoring and listening to the voices of established writers is essential to the ongoing legacy of women’s literature.

Madwomen in the Attic offer opportunities for publishing, mentoring, awards and readings, including: MadBooks (chapbook publishing series), Madwomen Mentorship (free, peer mentorship program), Madwomen Reading Series featuring nationally acclaimed poets & writers and MadFridays Reading Series featuring Madwomen students & teachers.

Madwomen Writing Workshops

Join a group of serious writers, who not only bring their writing drafts to class, but with solidarity, offer generous support as an integral part of the workshops. Though our writers are far-ranging in their interests, backgrounds, philosophies and aesthetics, we always have one thing in common—a love of writing.

The Madwomen in the Attic Writing Workshops are semester-long, creative writing workshops that are open to undergraduates and community writers (women, ages 18-99). Classes are held on weekday evenings for two hours (on campus and online). Space is limited to 12 writers.

Quick facts

  • Learn from working writers
  • Develop and strengthen your creative voice in poetry, fiction and nonfiction
  • Grow in a small, supportive and intergenerational workshop setting
  • Prepare to pursue publication of your work

$250 (plus parking permit, if needed)


Fall (Sept.-Dec.), Spring (Jan.-April) & Summer (June-Aug.)

Work from the workshops is published in “Voices from the Attic”. The workshops are directed by Sarah Shotland, novelist and Carlow professor. Classes are taught by Keely Bowers, Doralee Brooks, Sheila Carter-Jones, Joy Katz, Nancy Kirkwood, Nancy Krygowski, Jane McCafferty, Emily Mohn-Slate, Bonita Lee Penn, Kayla Sargeson, Ellen McGrath Smith, and Sarah Williams-Devereux.

Brief History

In 1979, the workshops were formed by Ellie Wymard, PhD (former Director of Carlow’s MFA program) and Jane Coleman (fiction writer). The workshops were named after a groundbreaking feminist text, “The Madwomen in the Attic: The Woman Writer and The Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination” by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. First director of the workshops was Jane Candia Coleman (esteemed fiction writer) followed by Patricia Dobler (Learn more about Patricia), and finally Jan Beatty, until her retirement in 2022.

“Voices from the Attic”, now in its 26th volume, is the Madwomen in the Attic annual anthology that reflects the diversity and depth of the Madwomen themselves. The anthology features the best poetry, fiction, and nonfiction from the Madwomen workshops (as determined by the Madwomen editorial team) and the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award-winning poem. 

Back copies are available (some with limited availability) for purchase. 

  • Series editor: Sarah Shotland  
  • Managing editor: Sarah Williams-Devereux 

The Patricia Dobler Poetry Award is an annual contest open to women writers over the age of 40 who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, currently living in the U.S., who have not published a full-length book of poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. 

Now accepting submissions for the 2024 award. 

To register for a workshop, learn more about our opportunities or purchase “Voices from the Attic”, contact us!

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