Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Space, Race, and Saving Face

Last month during Pitt State's fall break, I traveled to San Diego--not for the great weather, beach access, or authentic Mexican food, but for the International Writing Centers Association conference (although I might have enjoyed a couple of those other things as an added bonus...). At the conference, I met several other writing center professionals and had the opportunity to listen to and discuss some great scholarship that's happening now in the field. I also presented as a member of the panel titled "Space, Race, and Saving Face: What Writing Centers Can Do to Minimize Division."

In our disciplinary literature, writing centers are frequently presented as comfortable, safe, and student-centered. This is in contrast to the larger academic institution that's portrayed as sterile and competitive. Our panel, as a whole, problematized this common narrative that claims we exist as an "idyllic oasis" in the midst of the Academy. Instead, discrimination can surface in various ways in writing center tutorials and spaces, both physical and virtual. We shared our individual research as it relates to this issue and proposed some strategies for countering threats to social justice and pedagogical effectiveness in the writing center.