Thursday, March 28, 2013

Whose Chair Is It?

In my last Pitt Parlor post, I indicated that a post detailing my research findings from the paper/presentation "Smell That?: Insider/Outsider Dynamics in the Writing Center Wait Area" would be forthcoming. And here it is--at long last!

"Musical Chairs" from
As a reminder, I wrote the paper as an undergraduate at Texas State in Spring 2012 and then presented it at the IWCA conference win San Diego in Fall 2012. My research for the piece involved observing the Texas State Writing Center wait area to look for instances of injustice against clients--particularly the kind that we tend to be unaware of as a result of our own insider positions as members of the writing center "community." My inspiration for the project was both practical and theoretical. First, after overhearing a group of consultants discussing a client negatively and within earshot of other clients, I reflected that such an atmosphere probably didn't inspire confidence in clients as they waited for their own appointments to begin. Second, I recalled McKinney's advice that "writing center professionals ought to examine [our] spaces critically in order to better judge whether [our] reading of a writing center is the same as the reading held by different users" ("Leaving Home Sweet Home: Towards Critical Readings of Writing Center Spaces," Writing Center Journal, 2005). As a result, I chose to examine critically both space and actions in the waiting area of the writing center. Findings from my research indicated that on occasion, clients may be negatively impacted by their experiences in the writing center before their consultations event begin.