Innovation Hall 316
Section Information for Spring 2017
English 822: Studies in Composition — Writing Center Studies
Writing centers are rich sites for researching and theorizing writing, talk about writing, student-centered pedagogies, and the dynamics of institutional change. On the one hand, writing centers would appear to be uncomplicated spaces: writers come to converse with knowledgeable readers about their writing projects. On the other, writing centers embody—are shaped by and experience—the tensions and fissures produced by the conflicting ideologies of writing, meaning-making, success, responsibility, and authorship that cohabit the contemporary university. For example, writing center practice resists an ideology that distinguishes writing from its subject matter, yet writing centers can function as an all-too visible promise that one could make this distinction.
Some of the questions we’ll address in this course:
* What disciplines do or should inform writing center theory and practice?
* What kinds of scholarship and research is the field calling for?
* What are core pedagogies for writing center practice? Are they limited to those used in one-on-one conversations? Can we develop distinct pedagogies for group tutoring, for workshops, or for other formats?
* What are the consequences of locating writing centers in different sites within the university (writing programs, English departments, academic support services, libraries)?
* How are evolving constituencies, disciplinary theories, and institutional configurations reshaping writing center pedagogies and practice?
* How do writing centers demonstrate “effectiveness”? What are the challenges of assessment in a site where writers may come once and not again, where pedagogy isn’t standard, etc.?
Requirements for the course will include leading a discussion, creating and presenting a profile of a specific (actual) writing center, and exploring and reporting on a key issue or debate in writing center studies. There will be short assignments such as composing a 2-minute description of your center to deliver at a faculty orientation or to your university’s leadership.
For the final project, students will choose from three main options:
1. A “practical” project, supported by a justification in the literature, and articulated within a local context. Possibilities could include a tutor training curriculum or an assessment plan.
2. A theoretical argument about the field.
3. A proposal for an empirical research project, including some pilot data
ENGH 822 001 Students must contact the instructor for permission to register via Patriot Web.
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Offers advanced study of theoretical, practical, or pedagogical topics related to composition.
May be repeated for a maximum of 12 credits when topic is different.