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The Cullman Center Institute for Teachers


Illustration by Gary Panter
Illustration by Gary Panter


“Cullman Center workshops are the very best professional development I have been involved in. They have immediate impact on my teaching. I always return to school excited to put into practice some element of what I've learned.” — David Wilson

“The Cullman Center and its workshops are an inspiration, a reminder, a challenge to stay focused on what matters in education — curiosity and inquiry.” — Matthew Hoffman

The Cullman Center Institute for Teachers offers two distinct programs for professional development that give teachers an opportunity to enrich their understanding of the humanities and research in one of the world's great libraries. The Institute is located in The New York Public Library's landmark building on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street at The Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Our Spring Seminars, which last a day, are free. Breakfast and lunch are included.

Summer Seminars last a week. Participants receive a $300 stipend, all required books and materials, a private office with networked computer at the Cullman Center, and breakfast and lunch each day. There is also an opportunity to receive graduate credit through Adams State College. Click here for details.

Space is limited. Any full-time teacher, school librarian, or administrator is welcome to apply; priority is given to public school teachers in the New York metropolitan area.

Special funding for the Cullman Center's Institute for Teachers is generously provided by Helen and Roger Alcaly and the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History.


"Your dedication and generosity to NYC public school teachers are truly remarkable — a much appreciated reminder that teaching is a noble profession. You show that in everything you do.” Cinda Becker

“The opportunity to engage in such a deep intellectual pursuit made me feel valued both as a teacher and a person. No one values and treats teachers better than the Cullman Center!”  Kim Kelly


The Cullman Center is made possible by a generous endowment from Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman in honor of Brooke Russell Astor, with major support provided by Mrs. John L. Weinberg, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Estate of Charles J. Liebman, John and Constance Birkelund, The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and additional gifts from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Helen and Roger Alcaly, The Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, William W. Karatz, Mary Ellen von der Heyden, Merilee and Roy Bostock, The Arts and Letters Foundation, Lybess Sweezy and Ken Miller, and Cullman Center Fellows.


Spring Seminars 2016

We are no longer accepting applications for the Spring 2016 Seminars. The deadline to apply was January 17th, 2016. These seminars are not open to the public. They are only for teachers who have applied and been accepted into the program. 

Larry Rohter

A Primer on Brazil: Global Giant with Larry Rohter

Monday, February 22, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
When the 2016 Summer Olympics were awarded to Rio de Janeiro late in 2009, Brazil was enjoying a decade-long economic boom and the country seemed poised for a leap to global power status. But when the games open next August 6, the mood in Rio is sure to be a sour one. Since the end of 2014, Brazil has been mired in the worst corruption scandal in its history, with its political institutions and leaders discredited, and the economy has shifted into reverse and is actually shrinking. What went wrong? And what makes this tropical giant tick? Even with all its problems, Brazil boasts the Read More ›
Nick Wilding

A History of Forgery with Nick Wilding

Thursday, March 10, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
We are accustomed to reading about art forgeries, counterfeit antiquities, pirated pharmaceuticals, even fake racing bikes. Until recently most people assumed that it was not possible to forge rare books, and that any such attempts would be easily detected. Using the New York Public Library’s unrivaled collection of forgeries and facsimiles, we will investigate the surprisingly long and complicated history of techniques and technologies deployed in forging printed books. Along the way, we will consider what forgeries have to tell us about the times in which they occurred, and will conduct a Read More ›
Shamus Khan

Gatsby’s Inglorious World of Inequality with Shamus Khan

Thursday, March 24, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
Relevant for history as well as English teachers, this seminar will focus on the social world portrayed in The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald set his novel at a time of staggering new wealth, staunchly-held prejudices, deep underlying inequalities, and a heady sense of promise. Will the bubble of the 1920s collapse? Will anything ultimately change?Read More ›
Yasmine El Rashidi

The Literature of Fact: A Non-Fiction Writing Workshop with Yasmine El Rashidi

Tuesday, April 26, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
The best literary journalism combines rigorous reporting, fluid writing, and a strong concept. In this workshop we will examine the key building blocks of long-form journalism, with a focus on the particular skills required when writing about events as they are happening (e.g., Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Arab Spring). Participants will be given short writing exercises during the day.Read More ›
Stacy Schiff

The Salem Witch Trials: Making Documents Talk with Stacy Schiff

Friday, April 29, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
In 1692 the Massachusetts Bay Colony executed 14 women, five men, and two dogs for witchcraft. The trial records have disappeared, as have many contemporaneous accounts of that year. We are left with about 950 legal documents, mostly records of preliminary hearings, depositions, complaints, and arrest warrants. These ‘reports’ are highly unreliable. Adolescent and pre-adolescent girls leveled the Salem accusations, and what they said has been conveyed to us by men. In the hearing room, reporters recorded answers but not always the questions that elicited them, and summarized testimony Read More ›
Laura Shapiro

The View from the Kitchen with Laura Shapiro

Monday, May 16, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
The View from the Kitchen with Laura Shapiro This seminar will focus on three culinary icons who span the 20th century: Betty Crocker, Julia Child, and Alice Waters. Their influence can be seen in every corner of America's relationship with food, yet each worked very differently to reach her audience. Betty Crocker, invented by the advertising industry, communicated through the imagination. Julia Child, a powerfully charismatic teacher, communicated through television. And Alice Waters, whom most Americans wouldn't recognize on the street despite her famous name, has communicated through Read More ›
Vivek Narayanan

Poetry as Translation: A Creative Writing Workshop with Vivek Narayanan

Friday, May 20, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
This workshop will use “translation” as inspiration for writing our own poems. We’ll think about the space between languages and consider the translated poem not as an “exact copy” of the original, but as a refraction, a riff. We’ll examine fascinating and exciting experiments with poetry and translation, reading poems by Jack Spicer, Alice Oswald, Latasha Nevada Diggs, Christian Hawkey and others. Participants will be given the opportunity to experiment by writing multilingual texts, working with languages they don’t necessarily know. Knowledge of other languages is not Read More ›
Alejandro Zambra

Stories from Poems: A Creative Writing Workshop with Alejandro Zambra

Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
What separates fiction and poetry? Might a poem contain a short story? One answer to these questions is surely “I don’t know,” but discussing them will lead to a fruitful discussion about creative writing. We will start by exploring poems by Emily Dickinson, Ezra Pound, Nicanor Parra, and others. Each participant will draft in class a short story based on one of those poems. When the group discusses these drafts, we will ask whether anything has been lost in translation.Read More ›

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