By Mia Alafaireet—As an undergraduate student at the University of Missouri, one of the things I loved most about campus was that it seemed like there were endless places to write. There was the tried-and-true Bookmark Café, where you could count on the muted din of coffee cups to keep you focused. On a sunny day, you could find a spot under one of the many Bradford pear trees that studded campus. Or, if you were a little bit weird like me, you could sit on the edge of a flowerbed and write amongst the horticulture school’s newest arrangement of ornamental cabbages. […]
By Annette Vee—Like every other teacher in higher education right now, I’m navigating the new terrain of socially distanced, online, hybrid or hyflex teaching due to our global pandemic. I’m also a writing program administrator, which means that I share some responsibility to help other teachers navigate this terrain as well. Conscious of the labor issues of instructors preparing new classes in flex, hybrid or online contexts, I’m digging into my online toolbox to share strategies that might work for others in this context and for the future, after the pandemic. The best little tool I have for teaching online or in hybrid formats is a class blog. […]
By Jon Isaac—Last March, like every other instructor in the country, I shifted my course—a once-weekly graduate course on writing pedagogy—from in-person to entirely online. Along with the inevitable technological glitches, I also had to attend to the constantly-evolving conversations happening in and beyond higher education circles about rethinking expectations, student engagement, community-building, and evaluation. The questions that ran through my head as I imagined how my course would proceed for the final two months of the semester may sound familiar to you: Should I transition to entirely asynchronous instruction and just use online discussions on Canvas? Should I decrease the word limits of assignments and expectations for student engagement? How could our class possibly maintain the sense of community we had in person?
From Chrissy Widmayer—Looking back on the Writing Center’s Fall 2020 semester, I am awed by all that we have been able to do. Alongside our students, we grappled every day with new challenges posed by the pandemic, adapting to an entirely online slate of services this semester, and sought to maintain the high level of professionalism we always offer. I am grateful for the patience our students have shown as we’ve adjusted to our new methods of teaching and so pleased with the reciprocal culture of care the Writing Center has fostered this semester. […]
By Gabrielle Isabel Kelenyi—What comes to mind when you think of the Writing Center? Perhaps you think of a place where you can receive help with your writing; a place where you can take your writing to the next level; a place where you can brainstorm ideas for a first draft, get feedback on a second draft, and put the finishing touches on a final draft… before submitting it to be evaluated by a professor, a TA, an admissions committee, a potential supervisor. That is, the Writing Center is typically thought of as a place where writers can receive short-term and long-term assistance with academic writing. But what if the Writing Center could be more? […]
By Calley Marotta and Jennifer Conrad—In May of 2020, two months after the sudden jump to online-only instruction necessitated by COVID-19, our writing center held its first virtual Dissertation Writing Camp. Co-sponsored by UW-Madison’s Graduate School and facilitated by Writing Center instructors, the central goals of this camp have always been to support writing and its production during a compressed timeline and to provide dissertators with a community of fellow graduate student writers engaged in the same effort. The decision to host this long-running camp online rather than in person felt provisional, and yet necessary amid so much upheaval.
By Emily Bouza, Tim Cavnar, and Keli Tucker—Multilingual students should be celebrated for what they bring to academia. In this post, we hope to share what it looks like to support multilingualism in education. Emily’s section will cover different frameworks for understanding multilingual practice, Tim’s section will discuss language ideologies as a framework for thinking and talking about language and writing, and Keli’s section will propose a translingual disposition as a possible move toward a more inclusive writing center pedagogy.
By Siri Carpenter—My path to becoming a professional writer was a wayward one. Toward the end of my undergraduate career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I was a psychology major in the early 1990s, I had the sudden inspiration that I wanted to be a writer. But when a friend asked me a perfectly reasonable question—“What do you want to write about?”—I was stumped. I stammered that I figured I’d write about . . . uh . . . whatever seemed interesting, and that . . . hrmmm . . . I was especially interested in science. […]
Booked but Can’t Read: “Functional Literacy,” National Citizenship, and the New Face of Dred Scott in the Age of Mass Incarceration
By Mckenna Kohlenberg—For Black men in the contemporary age of mass incarceration, the consequences of functional illiteracy are devastating. 70% of America’s adult incarcerated population and 85% of juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, which extends beyond the ability to read and includes the development of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills one needs to access knowledge, communicate, and participate effectively in political processes, the economy, higher education, and other 21st century exercises of democratic citizenship. […]
From Nancy Linh Karls and Emily Hall—In August, 2020, thanks to the support of English department chair Anja Wanner, associate dean for humanities Sue Zaeske, and L&S Dean Eric Wilcots (among many others), UW-Madison’s Writing Center was fortunate to welcome five new, full-time academic staff members. During the summer of 2020, our search committee reviewed over 116 applications for “outstanding and energetic administrators/teachers” […]
From the Directors—We are happy to welcome you to the Fall 2020 at UW-Madison’s Writing Center. In doing so, we’d first like to acknowledge the unique stressors of this semester. The Spring 2020 semester called for quick transitions to virtual and physically distanced services, surrounded by uncertainty and individual-level issues for us all in a global pandemic. […]
By Brenna Swift—Hello from the UW-Madison Writing Center as the summer term begins! In this uncertain time, we have both continued to serve our students and considered the ways our work might fit into the big picture—of a transformed world, of education for social justice, and of new practices in teaching of writing. As one of the assistant directors of the undergraduate Writing Fellows program and an instructor for English 403, our peer tutor education class, I have found myself thinking […]
Are you doing okay? What do your days look like right now? How’s your family? How’s your focus?
By Chris Castillo—The inclusivity statement is an increasingly prevalent genre in academic and nonacademic spaces. Inclusivity statements have become staples in most academic institutions—and even within specific departments in those institutions. The individual departments that take the initiative to develop inclusivity statements make it a point to […]
By Nancy Linh Karls and Emily Hall—The last two weeks have been tumultuous on many fronts, for our students, tutors, and staff at the UW-Madison Writing Center and at other writing centers around the country. We write this brief post to let you know of the decisions that we’ve made to adapt our writing center to the array of current challenges Our response, of course, may shift going forward, but this is our starting point for continued instruction this spring […]
By Amanda Pratt—As graduate students who work in writing centers, we tend to juggle many responsibilities. Our coursework, our dissertation research, our other jobs—the classes we teach, the professors we are tasked with supporting, the programs we run. Our families and personal lives. Oftentimes, and especially for neurodiverse and otherwise marginalized graduate students, this balancing act compounds the unseen emotional and psychic labor of existing in the academy […]
By Emily Loney—When Sir Philip Sidney sent the manuscript of his prose romance, the Arcadia, to his sister, Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke, sometime in the 1580s, he sent a letter along as well. Apologizing for the imperfections of his tale, Sidney tells Pembroke in his letter that the Arcadia was written for her, and he reminds her […]
By Tim Cavnar—One of the many programs administered by UW-Madison’s Writing Center is called Madison Writing Assistance (MWA). MWA could be described in many different ways—a local literacy program, the Writing Center’s public outreach branch, a tutoring service. Co-founded by former Writing Center Director Brad Hughes in 1999 and offering writing tutoring out of Madison’s Goodman South Library branch, it has grown significantly since that time. Currently, MWA offers […]
By Karen Best—In August I published the first installment of this two-part series on working with multilingual or English as a second language (ESL) writers in courses all across campus. In that blog post, I confessed that I had really overshot my target word length and thus would divide the content into two separate blog posts. […]
By Aaron Vieth – This post is a reflection on one of the Writing Center’s many new initiatives this year. Beginning last summer, we have been piloting a new format for our ongoing appointments—what we are calling “writing mentorships.” It is the aim of this post to provide a bit of background on what practices these writing mentorships have grown out of, describe what writing mentorships look like, and share the trajectory of the mentorship program […]