Save these dates and come hungry:

The EWCA Summer Institute 2023 is the EWCA’s second ever summer institute. Deemed a massive success by all who attended the first EWCA SI in Viadrina, the second SI in the American University of Armenia in Yerevan promises to be just as good if not even better.

The SI traditionally is a time for folks to get away from day-to-day responsibilities and to gather as a cohort, and while the extent to which you get away from mundane matters is up to you, this year’s cohort will enjoy the opportunity to virtually connect with writing center professionals across the globe. Just like in years past, participants can count on the experience to include a generous mix of:

  • Workshops
  • Independent project time
  • One-on-one and small group mentoring
  • Connecting with cohort members
  • Special interest groups
  • Other engaging activities

The EWCA SI is for anyone who is:

  • Interested in or already providing writing support in learning centres, language centres, academic support centers, or writing centers 
  • Starting up a new writing centre or interested in doing so
  • New to directing or working as professional staff a writing center
  • Looking for new direction for their writing center
  • Planning or expanding a writing center career
  • Interested in learning and sharing with writing center and writing support colleagues
  • Ready for more sustained discussions about writing support and/or writing centers than conferences offer

Please, keep the dates free. Come to Yerevan in May, 2023. There’ll be lots of interesting talk and activities. Come hungry and bring your dancing shoes (just in case). 🙂

Hisar School Writing Center, Istanbul, Turkey

By consultant, Ekin Aluf

Hi! Our writing center is located in Hisar School, Istanbul, Turkey. We have a big room in the middle of our school with a cozy vibe to it. Our center is run by high school students trained by our center directors. We aim to benefit middle schoolers and other high school students who wish to work with their peers on their various assignments. We have three different elective courses for three different levels of writing consultants. It separates the first, second, and third years, allowing each consultant to have a more fitting experience for their level. 

When students come to our writing center we hope to better not just their writing or assignment, but also the writer and to leave permanent improvements they can apply to their writing of choice. When we receive a submission from a student, we prepare for their session beforehand, finding specific positives and parts that the student can work on. During the session, we keep the student motivated by using “and”s instead of “but”s, while also leaving the decision-making to the writer, creating an equal environment between consultants and clients. 

When we give feedback, we also take some feedback regarding the tutor session. Here are some of the student-written feedback about our sessions. The feedbacks are important to our improvement as well, telling us specifically how we helped them and how we can better ourselves making the sessions more beneficial.  

“I fortunately got very good feedback about my essay and I definitely needed a second eye to read it.”

“Everything was good. Now I know what to fix and I also got some ideas on what to write about.”

Working at the writing center benefits the tutor, as well as the writer. The environment created in the center helps the tutor work on their writing, improves their critical thinking skills and enables them to look at their writing in a more objective way. In my personal experience, I felt like it helped me with my IELTS exam as a foreign English speaker. It helped me better my skills like thinking on the spot and empathy. 

Our aim as the writing center, especially by having high school students as tutors, is to create collaboration among students and inspire them to explore their writing and bring out their whole potential.

WRITING CENTER
Yazma Becerileri Merkezi  HİSAR OKULLARI
Göktürk Merkez Mahallesi İstanbul Caddesi
No: 3 34077 Göktürk – İstanbul
Tel: (+90 212) 364 00 00 Ext 333
www.hisarschool.k12.tr

News from the Centre for Academic Writing (CAW): Coventry University, England

Centre for Academic Writing (CAW) Reception Area

The Centre for Academic Writing (CAW) at Coventry University, England re-opened on campus in August 2021 after operating as a fully-online writing centre between March 2020-July 2021 during the COVID pandemic. Although CAW has offered students synchronous and asynchronous writing tutorials via the Coventry Online Writing Lab (COWL) since 2010, the pandemic pushed staff to come up with new online booking processes and delivery methods in order to offer writing tutorials, a drop-in writing café, writing development workshops, undergraduate and postgraduate writing development modules, and staff consultations online. Two years on from the start of the UK’s first national ‘lockdown’, students and staff are back in CAW, tutorials are taking place either side of clear plastic screens as well as online, CAW’s Single Question Drop-ins are happening at a table in the University Library, and writing development workshops and modules are being delivered online. It’s great to be ‘back in the centre’ as well as retaining our online presence!

Statement of Solidarity with Ukraine

On behalf of the members of the European Writing Center Association (EWCA) community,

The board of the EWCA joins with its members and our colleagues in EATAW in standing in solidarity with all Ukranians, colleagues or otherwise, at this harrowing time. We join EATAW, and many other academic and state bodies throughout Europe, in wholeheartedly condemning the Russian government’s denial of Ukraine’s right to exist, the subsequent unprovoked invasion and what can only be construed as an attempt to mercilessly eradicate those who dared to call themselves Ukranians, the free, peaceful, hopeful people of a promising, forward-looking nation. 

Many EU institutions, political, civil and academic, are offering some form of refuge for the people fleeing the barbarous, inhumane and illegal Russian violation of their sovereign homeland. Some of these opportunities, relevant to EWCA members, and to academics in Ukrainian educational institutions in general, are listed below. 

It is our hope that everyone remembers that to be Russian is not to be Putin or his cronies, and that many Russians throughout the world are sympathetic and grieving with Ukraine; many courageously take a high risk by resisting and speaking up against the war. If our colleagues in Ukraine have questions about how to avail of any of these opportunities or have questions about how to take refuge in any of our member countries, please contact us, and we will do our best to get you the information that you need. 

We encourage EWCA members to add to this list below by adding and reposting this message.

The EWCA Board: 

Franziska Liebetanz Liebetanz@europa-uni.de 

Lawrence Cleary lawrence.cleary@ul.ie 

Doris Pany-Habsa, doris.pany@uni-graz.at 

Austrian Academy of Sciences

https://www.oeaw.ac.at/en/oeaw/press/news/oeaw-emergency-call-for-researchers-from-ukraine-starts“

Austrian Science Fund

https://www.fwf.ac.at/en/news-and-media-relations/news/detail/nid/20220314

University of Graz: Fellowships for Ukrainian Scholars at Risk: 

https://europaeisierung.uni-graz.at/de/neuigkeiten/detail/article/call-fellowships-ukrainian-scholars-at-risk/

German Academic Exchange Service

https://www.daad.de/en/the-daad/hilfsangebote/

European University Viadrina, Frankfurt (Oder), Germany:

https://www.europa-uni.de/de/internationales/VIA-for-Ukraine/index.html

Ireland

Irish third-level students fleeing Ukraine will be able to continue their studies in Ireland – Independent.ie (The details of how to avail are still not published, but forthcoming)

Irish University Association statement of solidarity with Ukraine: Irish Universities Association | The Voice of Irish Universities (iua.ie) 

https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/bc537-irelands-response-to-the-situation-in-ukraine/

Academic associations:

Call for Papers in Inaugural Issue

Critical Studies in Writing Programs and Pedagogy

¡Fiesta de lanzamiento de SKRIB!

SKRIB Launch Party!

Soirée de lancement SKRIB !

SKRIB-Launch-Party!

Introducing SKRIB, an international peer-reviewed, open access journal that facilitates intercultural dialogue around the development of writing programming and pedagogy in post-secondary institutions of higher learning around the world.

Developed by an international group of founding editors in response to the largely unidirectional flow of writing centre & composition program models outward from the United States, SKRIB calls for examinations of:

  • in-country development and operation of writing programs and pedagogy;
  • writing programs & pedagogy as cultural artifacts; cultural framings & histories of writing, rhetoric and their teaching;
  • the past, present, and future of Western (especially US) linguistic, epistemic, institutional hegemonic forces;
  • English as a commodity and colonizing force.  

SKRIB invites critical approaches to scholarship that foreground relevant issues of colonialism, globalism, capitalism and neoliberalism, racism, ableism, as well as issues relating to patriarchy and gender inequality.

SKRIB is now accepting submissions to its inaugural issue, which will be published on a continuous basis over the course of 2022.

As an inaugural issue, we are looking to SKRIB’s mission as a guide for submissions as well as explorations of different understandings of critical sustainability in writing programmes and writing centres.

Critical sustainability is an emerging interdisciplinary concept that brings environment, ecology, politics, and sociality into conversation. According to Rose and Cacheline (2018) socio- cultural approaches to critical sustainability call for system reformation through praxis that “undermines, subverts, and offers alternatives to existing systems” (p. 519). Ferreira (2017) centres critical consciousness development in this work, encouraging practices that acknowledge authoritarian socio-cultural tendencies and underpinnings. We invite authors to engage with this interdisciplinary concept to take a critical approach to the study of writing programmes and writing centres in local, transnational, and global contexts.

Please review author guidelines for information about journal sections as well as house style.

Join the SKRIB community! Serve as a peer reviewer and/or translator. We are looking to build a multilingual and international list of peer reviewers and translators, so please spread this invitation far and wide!

Interested translators, reviewers, and contributors can contact the journal editors at skribjournal@gmail.com.

In eager anticipation of your submissions,

Stevie Bell and Brian Hotson,

SKRIB Co-editors-in-Chief

On behalf of the SKRIB Editorial Board:

Co-editor-in-Chief

Stevie Bell,

Associate Professor, York University, Canada

Co-editor-in-Chief

Brian Hotson,

Independent scholar, Canada

Violeta Molina-Natera,

Directora de departamento, Departamento de Comunicación y Lenguaje, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Cali, Colombia

Lawrence Cleary,

Director, Regional Writing Centre, University of Limerick, Ireland

Pamela Nichols,

Associate Professor, Wits University, South Africa

Rose Richards,

Faculty, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Christiane Donahue,

Faculty, Dartmouth (Université de Lille, France), US

Pam Bromley,

Writing Associate, Scripps College, US   

Reflecting on the digital transformation: a praxeological perspective on writing center work during COVID-19

Doris Pany-Habsa

Writing Center of the University of Graz, Austria

This year’s EATAW conference opened up a wonderful opportunity to revisit the foundations of teaching academic writing in the light of the pandemic. The conference organizers invited us to think about a series of apparently simple but in effect far-reaching questions. When I read the call for submissions there was one question that in particular appealed to me. It was: “What has changed recently?” This question was an eye-opener for me, because it made me realize that, in our writing center at the University of Graz (Austria), we were so busy adapting to the new situation caused by the pandemic that we had not managed to make time to think about the implications and the significance of the transformations under way. So I decided to take the chance the EATAW conference 2021 offered, and I started to think about the meaning of the changes we had gone through during the pandemic. For the conference, I put down some first and of course very approximate thoughts and ideas. When I presented them at the EATAW conference, the panelists seemed to receive them with interest, and therefore, I would like to share these ideas with the EWCA community here.

My blog post begins by briefly describing the situation in our writing center when the pandemic reached Austria. It will, then, go on to outline the innovations we introduced due to the pandemic. Finally, it concentrates on one central aspect of our digital transformation and suggests an interpretation for that aspect that draws on the so-called practice theory or praxeology.  

The pandemic reached our writing center

The pandemic reached Austria more or less at the beginning of the summer term 2020. We still had most of the scheduled workshops ahead of us. I remember that we perceived the situation as very ambiguous. On the one hand, we felt a strong urge to assist students in this difficult situation. We wished to stay in contact with the students, and we wanted to continue the dialogue with them because we always conceived direct interaction with our tutees particularly crucial. For that reason, we considered simply moving online with our workshops and counseling sessions. On the other hand, we had almost no experience with the online tools we would need to achieve this.  We were also totally aware that there was a fundamental difference between holding workshops online and holding them in a face-to-face setting. In brief, we realized that we were an extremely ‘analogue’ writing center before COVID-19 and that it would take us some time to familiarize ourselves with the digital mode. 

Therefore, we finally decided to take a step back and to cancel our workshops in the summer term. Instead, we developed digital resources students could use asynchronously. We created a series of learning videos explaining writing techniques for the different stages of the writing process, e.g. for developing a research question, for structuring the paper, etc. Whenever we completed a video, we published it on the writing center’s website so that students could access it as quickly and easily as possible. That was the main thing we did during the first semester of the pandemic. For the second semester of the pandemic, the winter term 2020/21, we designed online workshops for relatively small groups of participants (max. of 15), which we delivered through Big Blue Button – so we were able to have group work in breakout sessions – and into which we integrated the learning videos. Since then we have continued doing this.

The praxeological perspective

As I mentioned above, my first ideas about the significance of the changes triggered by the pandemic are inspired by practice theory or praxeology. For all those who are not familiar with this theoretical approach, we can briefly say that it is a loose but nevertheless definable movement of social thought that has taken shape since the 1990s and was advocated by theorists like Theodore Schatzki in the US and Andreas Reckwitz in Germany. The various proponents of praxeology share the conviction – here I quote Schatzki – that “the social is a field of embodied, materially interwoven practices centrally organized around shared practical understandings” (Schatzki, 2001, 3). The important point here is that, when we analyze practices, we do not look at people’s intentions or knowledge, but we look at things people do under certain material conditions, conditions that embrace spatial arrangements, artefacts and media. By analyzing what people do, practice theorists try to discover the shared practical understandings that underlie people’s actions. In this regard, a central praxeological assumption is that those practical understandings do not have the status of explicit knowledge but are rather implicit and not fully transparent to the subjects who perform the practice.

We used to be a very ‘analogue’ writing center

Without doubt, we formed and performed new practices of writing center work during the pandemic without being fully aware of the meaning and the significance inherent to them. By now taking a closer look at some micro-practices that we developed around our new learning videos, I try to get a little closer to the implicit significance of our digital transformation.  

At this point, it is necessary to emphasize once more that we used to be a very ‘analogue’ writing center before the pandemic. Actually, we made very little use of digital media. Of course, we used Power Point presentations in our workshops, and we had a digital course management system, but in our core activities, we always tried to have a very direct and conversation-based contact to our tutees. Perhaps the best way to make this clear is by describing the following setting: Before the pandemic none of our materials were available online for download. Instead, our material used to be accessible to tutees in a rotating shelf that we put in front of our office, which can be seen in the photos.

Figure: Photos of the entrance to our writing center and the rotating shelf with our material (Photo: Doris Pany-Habsa)

When someone came to the writing center to take some material, it was possible for us to hear that person from the office and, whenever possible, we stood up to welcome them and started a little conversation to find out what kind of support or material could be useful for them. A practice theorist would probably say that we created a spatial arrangement that required physical co-presence between writing tutor and writer. We created this setting, the practice theorist would continue, out of the underlying conviction that the best way to support writers is by talking to them. Or in other words: Our practice of writing center work was logo-centrically oriented in a very strong way.

The digital transformation of our writing center work

In the pandemic, we were forced to leave this old-fashioned logo-centric practice, and we had to jump right into a digital-based practice. As I mentioned, we developed learning videos that we made available on our website. By doing this we created a situation that was right the opposite of the old one: Our material was now accessible to potentially everybody in the whole world. In theory, that was wonderful and made us very proud, but in practice, we did not hear or see any of the people interested in our material, and we could not talk to them at all. That changed when we started with our online workshops. The workshops always included a theoretical part, where we provided information using our learning videos, and a practical part, where the students did group work in breakout rooms. While our on-campus workshops were held by one or at most two tutors, the first online workshop was held by all of the four tutors who work in our writing center.

That may seem exaggerated, but we all were very curious about the new setting and wanted to be involved in the new experience. Actually, we continued to keep that configuration of four tutors; although, it is not very efficient in terms of deployment of human resources. The main reason why we liked to participate in the workshops all together was probably that, by doing this, we could closely accompany the group work in the breakout rooms. And by taking part in the breakout rooms, we could see and hear the students, and we could finally talk to them again. So it seems that, within the new digital arrangement, we wanted to rebuild a logo-centric nucleus that should somehow manage to preserve our underlying core conviction that it is best to support writers by talking to them.

But where does this imperturbable conviction of ours come from? Let me close by sharing the suspicion I have: Generally, we can say that the average European public university funds a writing center because it hopes that the writing center will help students to pursue and complete their studies quickly and efficiently. So from an institutional perspective, we can say that writing centers are made possible by an instrumental logic of efficiency. This, however, is not the logic we would like to see as the basic principle and motivation for our work. I would even dare to say that this applies not only to our writing center but to very many of them. Instead, we like to think of our work as a practice that empowers people not just in an instrumental sense. Apart from efficient writing habits, we hope that our students will develop insight into the social situatedness of writing, into the agency and the ethic responsibility that writing skills bring about. We could say that it is somehow our hidden agenda to make our students aware of these aspects of writing. And since our university certainly would not let us publish a learning video or a manifesto that explains the above mentioned social and ethical dimensions of writing, it seems that we have to hold on to creating logo-centric spaces in which we can transmit these dimensions in personal face-to-face conversations.  

This blog post is based on a presentation held on July 7, 2021 at the EATAW Conference.

References

Reckwitz, Andreas (2003). Grundelemente einer Theorie sozialer Praktiken. In: Zeitschrift für Soziologie 32 (4), 282–301.

Schatzki, Theodore R. (2001). Introduction: practice theory. In: Schatzki, Theodore R. et al. (eds.): The practice turn in contemporary theory. London/NY: Routledge, 1–14.

Author

Doris Pany-Habsa is the director of the Writing Center at the University of Graz, Austria. Originally trained in Literature and Cultural Studies, she holds a PhD in Romance Studies. Her research interests are interdisciplinary writing research, writing pedagogy and writing center work. Latest publications: Knaller, Susanne; Pany-Habsa, Doris; Scholger, Martina (eds.) (2020). Schreibforschung interdisziplinär. Praxis – Prozess – Produkt. Transcript; Pany-Habsa, Doris (2021): „,Wir Schreibbewegten sind ja frohgemut, daß wir Gutes bewirken‘. Zum kreativen Schreiben der Schreibbewegung“. In: JoSch 22 (02/2021), in press.

Lots happening with EATAW!

Firstly, their website was down and a new website is now up. You are being encouraged to renew your membership as the database was lost when the website went down. Go here to renew your membership: https://www.eataw.eu/

Secondly, their call for papers has been extended to February 7th. The theme is THE RESIDENCE OF WRITING SUPPORT (AND RELATED RESEARCH). Visit their conference site for details: https://www.eataw.eu/